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Foot Reflexology Chart: Points, How to, Benefits, and Risks
Medically reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT — Written by Daley Quinn on January 20, 2021
What is it?
Massage vs. reflexology
What to expect
Illustrator: Maya Chastain
Foot reflexology is a treatment that’s been practiced for centuries. It involves applying pressure to different points on the bottom of the foot.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, these points correspond to different areas of the body. They are believed to have multiple benefits, including reducing stress, aiding digestion, and promoting sound sleep.

What is foot reflexology?
“Reflexology is commonly known as a holistic practice performed on the feet,” says Brian Goodwin, esthetician, herbalist, and international educator at Eminence Organic Skin Care. “The concept is that there are meridian points on the feet that correspond with various organs in the body.”

According to Dr. Dustin Martinez, a Los Angeles-based chiropractic physician, research shows that reflexology can improve quality of life in a number of ways. This involves reducing stress and bringing balance to the system.

“Reflexology is ancient medicine — it’s been around forever,” he says. “It can be traced as far back as 2330 B.C.”

According to Martinez, reflexology was given its current name in the United States in the early 1900s.

What are the benefits of foot reflexology?
Reflexology may be beneficial as a treatment alongside other treatments for a condition, but be sure to consult your doctor before starting a new treatment.

It’s important to note that although reflexology has been practiced in many countries for thousands of years, there is scant scientific evidence available to prove its effectiveness.

A 2015 studyTrusted Source noted that strong evidence to support foot reflexology is lacking, despite many small-scale trials and anecdotal evidence.

If nothing else, foot reflexology may be a soothing, relaxing way to wind down and give some massage-like attention to your feet.

Foot reflexology may help with:

stress and relaxation
eye strain
improved sleep

Foot reflexology chart
Stress and relaxation
One of the key benefits associated with reflexology is relaxation and stress-management. This is achieved by applying pressure to certain points on the feet.

“Relaxation is probably the biggest benefit [of foot reflexology],” says Martinez. “Reflexology helps by increasing blood flow through the body, which helps to decrease stress and anxiety and lower blood pressure. When you feel less stress and less anxious, it’s easy to feel relaxed.”

In the 2015 study mentioned above, the authors observe that a common benefit of reflexology may be reducing stress and inducing general relaxation. Additionally, the study notes reflexology may be one way to interrupt the pattern of repetitive lifestyle stress by “helping the body systems to return to their natural state.”

If you try reflexology for stress management or relaxation, consider having multiple sessions. According to the study, one session may interrupt the stress response, but multiple sessions are recommended for optimal benefits.

Martinez notes that reflexology may help with digestion.

“One of the reflex points found on your feet is connected to your stomach—when this particular point is stimulated, it will increase blood flow to your stomach, helping to improve digestion,” he says.

Eye strain
“Reflexology can help to reverse some of the stress we put on our eyes just from our daily activities,” says Martinez. “These pressure points help to relax the tight muscles caused by looking at our screens all day.”

Improved sleep
Considering reflexology may be beneficial in helping you to relax and reduce stress, it’s no surprise that some say it may help promote a more restful night’s sleep.

“Because reflexology is moving energy and improving overall circulation, it’s easy to have a restful night’s sleep after a treatment,” explains Martinez.

What are the risks associated with foot reflexology?
According to Martinez, reflexology is not for everyone.

“If you have circulatory issues, gout, or a history of blood clots, [foot reflexology] is probably not the best treatment for you,” he says.

Always talk with your doctor before starting a new treatment to determine whether it’s appropriate for you.

Reflexology is not recommended for those with gout, a history of blood clots, or circulatory issues.

If you’re pregnant, consult a doctor before trying reflexology. There are concerns associated with foot reflexology and stimulating labor.

Massage vs. reflexology: what’s the difference?
While massage and foot reflexology are both known for their relaxing benefits, they have different functions.

“Foot reflexology is a therapeutic massage with sustained pressure instead of broad strokes, like a classic massage,” explains Martinez. “Fine detail and pressure are applied to specific reflex points and held until released.”

A massage might be more beneficial for overall relaxation and muscle aches, whereas reflexology may be able to target specific concerns with focused points on the feet.

What to expect at your first foot reflexology appointment
According to Goodwin, some people experience immediate relief, especially when it comes to pain and anxiety. He emphasizes that each case is individual and there is no universal timeline for improvement.

Martinez notes that you can expect to be a little sore, but in a good way.

“As long as you find the right practitioner who listens to your body and can [apply] the right technique, you should be fine,” he says.

Martinez suggests you communicate openly with your practitioner about what level of pressure feels appropriate and comfortable for you.

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How long before you start seeing benefits?
According to Martinez, the majority of patients notice benefits after their first reflexology session.

“Everybody is unique and heals in their own timing,” says Martinez. “In general, reflexology best complements natural healing already taking place.”

While you may be able to feel the effects of reflexology after just one treatment, it’s advised to continue using reflexology alongside other doctor-recommended treatments for best results.

While reflexology may not be scientifically proven as a medical treatment for disease, it’s been used for centuries to treat a multitude of ailments.

Foot reflexology may be beneficial as a complementary treatment, but scientific evidence is lacking.

It’s important to talk to your doctor before trying reflexology. Those with circulatory issues, gout, or blood clots should avoid it.

Daley Quinn is a beauty and wellness journalist and content strategist living in Boston. She’s a former beauty editor at a national magazine, and her work has appeared on sites including Allure, Well + Good, Byrdie, Fashionista, The Cut, WWD, Women’s Health Mag, HelloGiggles, Shape, Elite Daily, and more. You can see more of her work on her website.

Last medically reviewed on January 20, 2021

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5 Acupressure Points for Gas and Bloating
Medically reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT — Written by Eleesha Lockett, MS on November 9, 2020
Zusanli (ST36)
Sanyinjiao (SP6)
Qihai (CV6)
Zhongwan (CV12)
Weishu (BL21)
Are they effective?
Potential downsides
Alternative remedies
For stomach pain
For constipation
When to see a doctor
Everyone experiences gas, bloating, and other uncomfortable digestive symptoms from time to time. However, for people with sensitive stomachs, these symptoms can appear more frequently and may require treatment.

Acupressure is a type of traditional Chinese medicine that’s believed to be effective for gas, bloating, and stomach pain, among other conditions.

We explore whether acupressure is beneficial for the digestive system, and how to use acupressure to ease gastrointestinal symptoms.

About acupressure points
Traditional Chinese medicine has a long history of use not just in China, but all around the world.

In modern holistic health culture, traditional techniques — such as acupuncture and acupressure — have become popular alternatives to some Western techniques.

Acupressure is a type of traditional Chinese massage therapy that focuses on stimulating various pressure points around the body. Massaging these pressure points is believed to help control the flow of energy around the body, as well as positively influence overall metabolism.

Not only is acupressure said to help with the release of gas, but it’s also believed to benefit other digestive conditions, such as stomach pain and constipation.

Acupressure points for gas and bloating
Acupressure points are located all around the body along what traditional Chinese medicine refers to as “meridians,” or energy pathways.

Each meridian corresponds to an organ inside the body, and each acupressure point is named after its location along the meridian.

Stimulating the following acupressure points through massage therapy may help relieve trapped gas and reduce uncomfortable bloating.

Many of these acupressure points are also believed to influence the stomach, intestines, and other abdominal organs to promote digestive health.

1. Zusanli (ST36)
Zusanli, also known as ST36, is located on the stomach meridian and is thought to influence:

upper abdominal organs
parasympathetic nervous system
master energy
Point location: Roughly 3 inches below the kneecap, about 1 inch toward the outer edge.

To massage this point:

Place two fingers on the zusanli point.
Move fingers in a circular motion using gentle, firm pressure.
Massage for 2–3 minutes and repeat on the other leg.

2. Sanyinjiao (SP6)
Sanyinjiao, also known as SP6, is located on the spleen meridian and is believed to influence:

lower abdominal organs
parasympathetic nervous system
Point location: Roughly 3 inches above the bone of the inner ankle.

To massage this point:

Place one to two fingers on the sanyinjiao point.
Move fingers in a circular motion using gentle, firm pressure.
Massage for 2–3 minutes and repeat on the other leg.
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3. Qihai (CV6)
Qihai, also known as CV6, is located on the conception vessel meridian and is thought to influence:

lower abdominal organs
overall energy
Point location: Roughly 1 1/2 inches below the navel.

To massage this point:

Place two to three fingers on the point location.
Using gentle pressure, move fingers in a circular motion. Make sure not to press too hard, as this area can be sensitive.
Massage for 2–3 minutes.
4. Zhongwan (CV12)
Zhongwan, also known as CV12, is also located on the conception vessel meridian and is believed to influence:

upper abdominal organs
yang organs, including the bladder and gallbladder
Point location: Roughly 4 inches above the navel.

To massage this point:

Place two to three fingers on the zhongwan point.
Apply gentle pressure in a circular motion, making sure not to press too hard.
Massage for 2–3 minutes.

5. Weishu (BL21)
Weishu, also known as BL21, is located on the bladder meridian and is thought to influence:

abdominal pain
gastrointestinal disorders
Point location: Roughly 6 inches above the small of the back and 1 1/2 inches outward on either side of the spine.

To massage this point:

Place one to two fingers on the weishu point.
Apply gentle pressure in a circular motion.
Massage for 1–2 minutes. Do not massage this point if you have any contraindicated conditions, such as a slipped disk or spine weakness.
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Do acupressure points for gas and bloating work?
The research on using acupressure for digestive conditions is sparse, with most of the research focusing on acupuncture instead.

However, there is some clinical research that suggests acupressure may have a positive impact on painful digestive symptoms such as gas and bloating.

In one studyTrusted Source, researchers investigated the effects of acupressure on 70 hemodialysis patients with constipation. During the study period, patients underwent acupressure 3 times per week for a period of 4 weeks.

The researchers found that stimulation of the common abdominal acupressure points resulted in increased gas release and improved bowel function.

In a similar studyTrusted Source from 2015, researchers analyzed the benefits of acupressure for 78 adult psychiatric patients with constipation.

The study participants self-administered acupressure for a period of 10 days and were assessed for the severity of their symptoms. According to the results, participants in the acupressure intervention group experienced a reduction in constipation symptoms, such as gas and bloating.

Although the research indicates that acupressure can have positive effects on gastrointestinal symptoms, more research is still needed to determine the benefits.

Are there downsides to acupressure points for gas and bloating?
Acupressure is a relatively safe health practice. However, individuals with certain chronic conditions, such as bleeding disorders or chronic pain, should speak with their doctor before trying acupressure.

When you perform acupressure on yourself, you should always use firm, but gentle pressure on the skin. Using too much pressure, especially when stimulating sensitive areas, may cause pain or bruising, among other symptoms.

What other home remedies can you follow to relieve gas and bloating?
Acupressure isn’t the only treatment for gas and bloating. You might consider giving these home remedies a try:

Rule out food intolerances. Food intolerances and allergies can cause uncomfortable symptoms, such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and more. Limit any foods that your body doesn’t tolerate.
Eat more slowly. When you eat quickly, you’re more likely to take in excess air, which can turn into gas. Eating smaller meals can also help reduce post-meal bloating.
Increase your fiber intake. Fiber is important for a healthy digestive tract. Eating enough fiber can help you avoid the uncomfortable symptoms of constipation.
Try prebiotics and probiotics. Prebiotics and probiotics are beneficial for your gut bacteria. Eating foods high in these nutrients can give your gut what it needs to run smoothly.

Can acupressure points be used for stomach pain?
Outside of more serious underlying conditions, constipation, diarrhea, and excess gas are common causes of stomach pain.

According to the Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists (AACP), there are over 28 acupressure points that are indicated for abdominal pain.

Some of these points include:

baohuang (BL48): located beneath each side of the small of the back
fushe (SP13): located by the hipbones
wailing (ST26): located below each side of the navel
yuji (LU10): located at the base of each thumb
Can acupressure points be used for constipation?
Much of the research on acupressure for digestive conditions focuses on using acupressure to reduce the symptoms of chronic constipation.

In the studies mentioned above, the following additional acupressure points were indicated for constipation:

daheng (SP15): located on either side of the navel
hegu (LI4): located below each index finger
quchi (LI11): located along the inner crease of each elbow
taichong (LV3): located above each large toe
tianshu (ST25): located on either side of the navel

When to see a doctor
If you’re experiencing chronic gas, bloating, and other digestive issues, it’s important to visit a doctor to rule out any underlying conditions.

Once you understand what’s causing your symptoms, you and your doctor can discuss a treatment plan that includes holistic treatment options, such as acupressure or acupuncture.

Acupressure has thousands of years of use for a variety of health conditions, including gas, bloating, and other digestive issues.

There are almost 30 points on the body that are believed to help improve digestion, reduce abdominal pain, and more.

If you’re interested in trying acupressure for uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms, visit a doctor to learn more about how to incorporate this therapy into your treatment.

How to Get Rid of Gas, Pains, and Bloating
Wondering if you should get help for stomach issues?
We can help you prep for your next appointment. Our free guide will help you remember what to share with your doctor, plus give you pointers on what questions to ask.

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Last medically reviewed on November 9, 2020

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