Basic Reflexology for Relaxation program Sept. 5

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Reflexology is considered by many to be a healing practice with ancient roots going back to 2330 BC recorded in a pictograph in Ankhamor’s tomb. Around 1000 BC in China, the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine revealed the connection between life force and points on the feet in a chapter entitled, “Examining the Foot Method.” History attributes the spread of massage and reflexology to Europe by Marco Polo when he translated the Chinese massage book into Italian in the 1300s.

Modern day reflexology is more clearly documented. Wm. H. Fitzgerald, MD, was named the “father of reflexology” following publication in 1917 of his book “Zone Therapy,” which divided the body into 10 zones for pressure treatment. His student Dr. Joe Shelby Riley found that reflexes and pressure to areas of the feet, hands and ears, correspond to other anatomical parts.

In the 1930s, physiotherapist Eunice Ingham developed foot maps and reflexology charts, wrote her book “Stories the Feet Can Tell” and spread reflexology knowledge to the non-medical community through country-wide lectures. Further public awareness of reflexology occurred following the publication of “Helping Yourself With Reflexology” in 1969 by Mildred Carter, student of Ingham.

People wonder how reflexology works. Research in the 1890s by Sirs Henry Head and Charles Sherrington found that there is a neurological relationship between the skin and the internal organs causing the whole nervous system to adjust when stimulated by pressure to the extremities causing positive and relaxing outcomes to occur throughout all body systems. Other theoretical ideas revolve around the neuromatrix theory of pain, vital energy flow that occurs in reflexology and zone therapy.

Although reflexology does not purport to cure physical or mental health conditions, it is a complementary, integrative procedure that helps people feel better by bringing bodily systems back into balance. Feelings of positivity and relaxation help the body heal itself. After reflexology sessions, people report to be very relaxed and to have increased energy. Studies have shown that there is a reduction in pain and anxiety following treatment. For instance, research by Williamson et al in 2002 reported in their article “Randomized Controlled Trial of Reflexology for Post-Menopausal Symptoms” published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that foot massage and reflexology reduced anxiety and depression in the post-menopausal population.

NAMI Piscataquis County is pleased to announce a special program Basic Reflexology for Relaxation to be presented at The Commons at Central Hall by Tara Smith, BA, BSN, CMT at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 5. This program is part of the NAMI Connections Senior Support program for older people experiencing the anxiety and/or depression that is so common to this age group.

Smith has an impressive background in treating patients with massage and reflexology in her nursing practice. She is a nationally certified massage therapist who studied at the Arizona School of Integrative Studies. Following her BSN at the University of Pennsylvania, where she acted as a research assistant, she was a nurse educator in New Mexico. Today in Dover-Foxcroft she is a public health consultant, grant writer and director of The Commons at Central Hall. She is well-known throughout the region for her dedication to connecting people for the common good.

This event is free. Register early to secure a place since space is limited. Please call 924-7903 or write to

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