Reflexology is the practice of stimulating reflex points to create a positive reaction within the body and mind. There are many different charts that show these various reflex point areas and depictions.
What is a Reflex Point?
A reflex point is defined as a depicted area in the foot that correlates to another area in the body. Examples of a reflex point for the lungs would be found in the ball of the foot, or a woman’s reproductive area reflex points might include the client’s ankle area.
Stimulating a reflex point can be achieved by simply pinching or pressing upon it, thumb or finger walking through the point(s), applying rotating pressure to the point and more. This definition of reflexology and its application can have some variation depending on where you train or who you speak to.
Why Reflexology Charts Don’t Match
Most reflexology chart depictions do not match one another, despite depicting similar points. This contributes to a variety of different reflexology applications and methods being taught and practiced. This can frustrate some reflexologists who learn reflex points are in a specific area, then find these same reflex points in a different area on a different chart.
A few experienced reflexologists have felt that some reflex points are in different areas than what’s depicted on their reflexology chart, and they have created a new chart to match their work.
In addition to some reflexologists feeling or experiencing reflexology points in different places, there would be massive copyright issues if one school taught from another’s chart without consent or compensation.
Some clients might also have reflex points in different areas than what a chart depicts, such as a situs inversus client would have the organ reflex points in reverse seeing their organs are in reverse position of normal anatomy. Hence, many charts depicting slightly different reflex point locations now exist for various reasons .
Unfortunately, we do not have any legitimate published studies that show that one reflex chart’s points are more accurate or effective than another. In the end, regardless of how, when or where a reflexology chart was created, there is a general industry consensus of some reflexology chart point locations.
[Watch the video, “Understanding Foot Reflexology Charts: Generally Accepted Reflex Points,” here.]
A Reflexology Map of the Body
What is commonly accepted in foot reflexology charts is that the reflex points are a map of the human body. The top of the human body, such as the head, would be depicted with reflex points in the toes or top of a foot reflexology chart. The lower portion of the human body would be depicted with reflex points towards the heels or bottom of a foot reflexology chart.
• Reflexology charts are a map of the human body
• Top-of-the-body reflex points would be toward the top of a reflex chart.
• Lower body reflex points would be at the bottom of a reflex chart.
In a simplified version of reflexology, reflex points are thought to be in a larger area across the feet instead of specific points. In this simplified chart, you’ll see four different colored reflex areas:
• The red area depicts reflex points for the head and neck.
• The yellow area depicts reflex points for the chest and thoracic cavity.
• The green area depicts abdominal area organ reflex points.
• The blue area depicts reflex points for the lower body and reproductive organs.
An oversimplified explanation of using this chart would be stimulating the red area of the toes would influence all head and neck reflex points. That means eyes, ears, thyroid, brain, olfactory system reflex points and anything else between the head and neck area could be affected when working in the red area of this simplified chart. The same applies to the other three colored sections of a simplified chart.
Foot Zone Therapy
This simplified chart also depicts four vertical lines that separate each foot into five vertical energy zones. Each of the five zones include one toe and the zones run vertically from the toe to the heel of the foot. These foot zones of energy continue vertically through the rest of the body to the cranium. A quick and simplified explanation of zone therapy suggests that any stimulation to one of these foot zones could affect the corresponding body areas in the same zone.
Zone therapy is one of the earliest foundations for today’s reflexology practice. Theories of zone therapy were published as early as the 16th Century.
Foot Reflexology Charts and Point Depictions
Eunice Ingham is credited as the original creator of a specific reflex point foot chart. In Ingham’s chart, what’s important to note is she created a map of the foot in much greater detail than previously held. Individual reflex points for organs were not a customary part of the original foot zone therapy. These organ reflex points, which are now commonly depicted in foot reflexology charts, are largely contributed to Ingham’s work.
Simplified charts, zone charts and reflex point charts are all still in use today, and some modern-day charts combine all uses. CE Institute LLC has a foot reflexology chart that depicts reflex points, zone therapy and four different colored/simplified areas, all in one chart.
8 Popular Foot Reflexology Chart Similarities
It is estimated that over 100 foot reflexology charts have been created since Ingham’s original depiction of foot reflex points. While the majority of foot reflexology charts do not match, common similarities have created industry standards. The most commonly accepted depictions of foot reflex points include:
1. Reflex point depictions match similar general areas that are depicted in zone therapy and simplified reflexology charts.
2. Foot reflexology charts follow a map of the human body. The top of the body is depicted in the toes and the lower body reflex points are depicted in the lower heel of the foot.
3. Charts should show a left and right foot. The spleen is found in the left-side of the body and the gall bladder is found on the right-hand side of the body. These spleen and gallbladder reflex points should be depicted in their respective areas of the left and right foot.
4. Reflex points for the human spine are found on the medial foot, which matches the spine’s location in the middle of the human body.
5. The heart’s reflex point could be depicted on the left foot only, or on both the left and right foot. Both presentations would be acceptable depictions. A foot reflexology chart that depicts the heart’s reflex point on a right foot only would be an example of what’s not commonly accepted in industry standards.
6. The colon’s reflex points pass from one foot to another. If the colon’s reflex points are detailed, then the ascending colon reflex points would be found in the right foot while the descending colon reflex points are found in the left foot, similar to the location within the human body.
7. Reproductive organ reflex points can include areas such as around a client’s ankles when the tops or sides of the foot are depicted in a reflexology chart.
8. The solar plexus reflex point is found just under the ball of the foot. The solar plexus is a commonly used reflexology point given it is stimulated to open and/or close most foot reflexology sessions.
What Should You Do When Reflexology Charts Don’t Match?
In summary, we like to teach in our reflexology CE classes that you can stimulate the general area of where a reflex point is commonly depicted, instead of trying to create an exact latitude and longitude reflex point coordinate. We feel this is the best approach until science provides better direction.
Some clients may have slightly different reflex points than others. Practitioners may feel one client’s reflex point is slightly superior, inferior, medial or lateral to another’s. That is OK. The criteria is to stimulate the general reflex point area. This is why most reflex point charts have common general area similarities. Trying to find an exact pinpointed location is not an exact science, especially given it is doubtful that the same reflex point would be in the exact same location for all clients.
What’s most important is how the client responds to the work, whether the client responds favorably or there is no response at all. Clients rarely respond poorly to reflexology; this is almost unheard of. It’s hard to do harm when good intentions and proper pressure with training are applied.
Learning the different methods of how to stimulate reflex points, where they’re commonly located plus contraindications will require specific industry training. Regardless of where you’ll train and which method you’ll practice, we hope you can apply some of these commonly accepted reflex point standards. This should help you build upon the successful practice of this extremely popular modality.
About the Author
Selena Belisle is the founder of CE Institute LLC in Miami, Florida, where they teach massage, nursing and cosmetology industry CE courses. She has been practicing massage therapy and bodywork for over 30 years. She is approved as a continuing education provider by many industry state boards and the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork.