An interesting point to consider in Chapman's work is that nowhere are the feet or hands involved as sites to be worked. However, we do know that sensory neurons are plentiful in the soles of the feet and palms of the hands. Joe Shelby Riley may have reached this same conclusion and adapted Chapman's concept, which he knew about through his own osteopathic training, to the feet and hands while coupling reflexes with Fitzgerald's work with zones. Riley's charts are the oldest that map the various "reflex" points on the feet. Riley's work was further refined, expanded and popularized by Ingham who worked as his assistant for several months during two successive winters in Florida prior to the publication of her first book.
With Chapman's concepts in mind, the palpation to the receptors on the feet may support much of the same principles. First, sensitivity in the soft tissue of the foot, [e.g., pain upon palpatory pressure] may affect the body as the fascia forms lesions and adversely affects biomechanical movement. Removal of articular lesions coupled with the hormonal activation triggering an endocrine response, stimulation to the circulatory and lymphatic systems, and all nervous systems makes reflexology a very powerful and holistic therapy. Additionally, the proper alignment of the joints in reflexognosy produces relief of tension to the segmental dysfunction of the dermatomes, resulting in the relaxation of muscular tension and nerves throughout the body. The reduction of pain results as normalization of receptor activity moves toward normal muscle tone. The relaxation process will reverberate up the spinal column and through the autonomic nerve ganglia to the organs and other parts of the body due to the close ties between the central nervous system and the autonomic nervous system.
Ingham simplifies this in Stories the Feet Have Told by writing, "If any degree of tenderness is found in those reflexes in that part of the foot relative to the spine, then by applying this form of compression massage to that area you will relax the muscle tension surrounding that vertebra."11 In fact, the actual processes the practitioner has affected includes structural alignment, which produces reduced tension on the fascia that may result in improved circulation and pain reduction, improving overall health.
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