The Reflexology Association of Canada defines reflexology as follows...
"Reflexology is the study of reflexes.
Reflexology therapies are natural therapeutic methods derived from this study based on the principle that there are reflexes in the body that map to other parts, glands, and organs of the body. Through the application of pressure on these reflexes, reflexology therapy can relieve tension, improve circulation and spport the body’s efforts to function optimally."
In Western medicine, these reflexes are nerve pathways of the nervous system. In Eastern medicine, they correspond to meridians of the body. Either way, the feet, hands and ears "map" the body and through the systemic acupressing and stimulation of these (mapping) reflexes, the body is assisted in returning to a natural, balanced functioning. In the process, the release of endorphins is stimulated, a parasympathetic ("rest and repair") relaxation of the nervous system is promoted, cardiovascular and lymphatic circulation is improved, pain "gates" are shut down and tension is released.
In short, reflexology is a natural, gentle, non-invasive, holistic therapy that encourages the body to heal itself. There are no adverse side effects. And, it feels wonderful.
The use of foot, hand and/or ear reflexology depends on the physical condition of the client, client preference, the goals of the session and treatment context.