A new iteration in the process of defining reflexology

What is “mathematics”? From the well renomed dictionary Merriam-Webster we find it defined as

the science of numbers and their operations, interrelations, combinations, generalizations, and abstractions and of space configurations and their structure, measurement, transformations, and generalizations

What I want you to notice here is that the description does not explain or even mention any mathematical operations. Neither are numbers mentioned, as most of us relates to mathematics. The definition is short, abstract and probably incomprehensible to the general public. But in a scientific context I’m sure it is a valid and good definition. How things are done in mathematics are to be found other places.

How would you explain mathematics to a child? Probably by examples including counting, and maybe simple examples of addition and subtraction. It is very unlikely that your explanation will be as complementary as the definition. It is just as likely that no other adults will use the exact same explanation as you. But still, all of the explanations can be good for the child that receives it.

Would it be right to say that your explanation is a definition of mathmatics? No, obviously. In a scholar or a scientific context it will fall through. Can you see that such explanation and the formal definition both can be useful, in different situations, for different audience?

So how is this when it comes to reflexology?

I will use the “definition” by RAA as an example.

Reflexology, an integrative health practice, maps a reflection of the body predominately on the feet, hands and outer ears. It uses unique manual techniques to deliver pressure to neural pathways assisting the body to function optimally.

Is this a definition or a discription? I will not do an analysis of it here, but will comment some parts of it. If reflexology is an integrative health practices it is not a medical scientific fact, but the way it is categorised in a given country. If we use mathematics as an analogous example, there is no need to mention any theories about its mechanisms of action. Mentioning neural pathways unnecessary. As has been argued before: A statement does not become a definition just because someone claims it to be one. I’m sure the statement works well for RAA, but it would actually be more precise if the beginning becomes reformulated. “We describe reflexology as …” or “For us reflexology is …” could work.

What if we go to the extreme and try to define it the way mathematics has been defined in the above example? I give it a try.

Reflexology is the practice of using the body’s reflexological properties to improve the state of the body.

No law, no policy, no bragging, no speculations in mechanisms of action, no specific technique.

Of course it then would remain to describe all the properties and mechanisms of reflexology. And I put my head on the block.

The reflexological properties of a body is what is in action when by stimulating one place of the body it will change the state other places on the body. The places wich reacts are organised as topographic maps of the whole or parts of the body. The stimuli can be healing or harming. The reactions will be according to this.

You might find it strange what is said about harming. If you injury your elbow somehow, then elbow reflexes will become active. This also happens by the reflexological properties of the body. It works both ways. But the therapy reflexology utilizes this mechanism only to heal.

A point or not a point

To the point

I’m probably more that average conserned about language. I see it as fundamental tool to gain knowledge. It is obvious that if the teacher and the studen don’t have a common language, the teaching process can be very hard. But even if the language is common, there might be different interpretations of central words. This problem can also occure in discussions between peers. When I as professional am going to briefly explain something to a person with no background knowledge, I might be less accurate in my selection of words than if I discuss advanced topics with colleagues. The pitfall here is that we become less concious on our language when it is needed to be accurate and precise.

I recently found an article named Ease stress, headaches and anxiety with these at-home reflexology pressure points.

My immediate response to reading that heading is: Do we have points in reflexology? Just as immediate, I conclude that we don’t. To explain this we first have to look at the definition of a point. In this context a point is about a location, that is to say geomety. In short, the following is what Wikipedia has to say about point.


Point (geometry), an entity that has a location in space or on a plane, but has no extent; more generally, an element of some abstract topological space.

The ting to notice here is “has no extent”. It does not cover a single square milimeter, or fraction of it.

In reflexology we work on projections of the body on the body. For most reflexologists these projections will be smaller that the body that is treated. If I wish to treat my klients knee on the projection used by Ingham, the relativly big knee will project as a small spot. But it is bigger than a point. If I wish to treat the clients relativly smaller finger nail on the same projection, the area to treat is even smaller. But it still has an extent. It is an area and not a point, indipendent of how small that area is.

In my opinion the correct terminology is reflex, or area reflecting something.

Well, there is an exception. Kind of. This is probably of more theoretical interest. We have some fenomens that can be considered as points on our body. When these points are projected, also the projections will be points. The points I’m refering to here are the TCM acupuncture points and the center of chakras. Even if they are points they will be affected by influence on the nearby tissue.

A bad tradition

Usually the TCM acupuncture points are manipulated by needles. Hence the name, acus  is needle in Latin, and punctura is to puncture. That misleaded someone to believe that every time you use a needle it is related to a point. Thuse we got points in ear acupuncture. Pity. This has lead to much misunderstanding, and it continues to do so.
Even WHO is infected by this belief. They created the
Report of the working group of auricular acupuncture nomenclature. The famous Dr. Paul Nogier and other celebrities contributed to this work.

Screenshot_2019-10-12 Auriculotherapy Manual

Auriculotherapy Manual. Fourth edition. Page 245.

The most usual projection used on the eare is the reversed fetus. In books you can find referencers to French and Chinese ear reflexology points, and other. Here is the pitfall. Lots of authors don’t understand that the ears are a surface with a somatotopic projection. Our bodies are continuous. Even the famous Terry Oleson. From his book Auriculotherapy Manual I will give an examples that is common in the world of ear reflexology and ear acupuncture.

On my body the wrist is tightly connected to the forearm, which again is connected to the elbow. And so on.Øre1


As I see it, there is an area between the wrist and the elbow that projects the forearm. With this kind of map the readers are mislead. The forearm is not a point on my body, neither on the projection of the body on my ear. The same goes for both the wrist and the elbow. They are not points, they have an extent.

To avoid this kind of misunderstandings I use my own charts that express the projections as a continuum. I also prefer to teach ear reflexology without needles. Needles can come after some experience.

Please, be careful when using reflexology and point in the same sentence.

scapula – shoulder blad
artculatio humeri – shoulder joint
clavicle – collarbone
brachium – upper arm
ancon – elbow
antebrachium – forearm
carpus – wrist
manus – hand
pollex – thumb



This text assumes that you have watched the video that can be found on the following link:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14rOB_KC59I&feature=youtu.be. It was written on request from Liza Thomas, and published in the ICR Newsletter September 2019.

The videoshowsyou more than 80 projections of the heart. I can identify more than 400 on one hand orfoot if you are interested, but they are just of theoretical value. These hearts are not stand-alone. They are surrounded by a body, exactly the same way as the projection you already know. In other words – there are just as many noses, genitalia, throats, etc.
I have a confession. In my daily work, I have found my favorite projections and mostly limit myself to less than 10 projections. Every projection has its strengths and weaknesses. The secret to a good treatment is to use the best projection for the problem the client has and don’t waste time on the others. However, there are sometimes special cases where more rarely used projections are needed.
People who only know one projection expect it to be difficult to remember so many projections. But no, it is quite easy when you understand how the body organizes them. It is very logical. Going from one to 25 projections can be done in less than an hour. Not necessarily the most convenient projections, but a nice introduction.
I hope the video helps you to understand the absurdity in discussions about which chart is the best. If you refer to a knee reflex in a discussion, it does not really tell me anything. The knee reflex in which chart? The best would be if the reference was given to a very precise anatomical location. Then it would be possible to discuss findings in a more convenient way.
I’m not know as a very polite and gentle person. So, if you are a touchy person, I will recommend that youskip the rest of the text.
It is my opinion that you don’t really know reflexology until you know lots of overlapping projections. Just to be clear, I did not say that you do a bad job or get bad results, but the deep understanding of reflexology is impossible to get from only one projection.
I hope you receive this message as a challenge. Increase your knowledge about more projections and you will be amazed! Good luck on your journey. I also hope that in the future you can contribute to the knowledge about the individual projections.
There is so much to discover.

The hearts of reflexology

This is the transcription from the movie.

For this presentation the reflexes on the hands will be used. The hands are more convenient to use when visualizing the reflexes, but everything will be similar on the feet.
Most reflexologists are familiar with the “standard” heart reflex. Here located according to the book by Heinrike Bergmans, Sarafijn Hand reflexology.
The most used heart reflex from Su-jok, by Park Jae Woo, is also commonly known.
Less known is that Su-jok have many more heart reflexes. Here are a few of them.
In the system promoted as Acunova, by John Boel, there are a full projection of the body in each joint. Thus there is also a heart reflex in each joint. The less accessible reflexes are not marked here.
ECIWO biology, by Yingqing Zhang, is not so well known, and even less understood. You might have heard about it related to acupuncture on the second metacarpal. But every bone on the body have the same projections on it. Thus a heart reflex is related to each bone.
Karl Axel Lind, the father of Full-body reflexology, put the bones together to form bigger projections. All of these have heart reflexes.
He also discovered that many projections also exists “upside down”. The feet reflexes are where the head reflex usually is considered to be, and vice versa. This is also valid for those from ECIWO biology.
All of the mentioned heart projections are smaller than the physical heart. There exist at least one projection that is bigger than the physical heart. In this projection a half heart reflex exists on each hand, forming a complete heart when combined.
This gives the total of x heart reflexes only on the hands. And there are more. More or less where ever you work, there will be a heart reflex. For each heart condition only a few of the reflexes will give a healing effect. There does not exist one heart reflex that is good for all conditions.
So where ever you treat a hand, there is at least one heart reflex. But only a few of them might be active at a time.

Will you join the journey to explore them?

The dolphin tattoo

During my reflexology study lots of interesting things happened. One of the episodes were about this dolphin. It is located above the right ankle of one of my reflexology colleagues.

My teacher, Karl Axel Lind, some times used an electronic point finder. That was an instrument that made sounds according to the electric resistance on the skin. It can be used to scan an area, moving it back and forth in lines. Then a pen can make a mark on the skin whenever there is a sound signal. This can make very interesting patterns. But it can also result in completely indecipherable patterns.

One day Karl Axel was scanning an area on the upper arm, near the shoulder, of one student. I can not remember the context, I think it was back in year 2000. Suddenly we could see the similarity between the pattern revealing on the shoulder and the tattoo on my colleague’s leg.

It is possible to look at this as a curiosity, and just pass on. But not for me. This tells me that even thous small ink pigments under the skin is enough to disturb the balance of the body. I’m convinced that it is possible to stimulate the body to repel the ink out of the body. At least in theory. The two big questions are:

  • How much effort is needed to locate the projection(s) that is activated by the ink? The scanning with the point finder demands very much work.
  • How much treatment will be needed to repel the ink?

For the level of knowledge we have about reflexology now, it is unrealistic to do such work. Regardless, this should remind us reflexologists to take care of our body. Even small things affects us. In this context I also wish to mention something else. This also happened during my reflexology study.


During a treatment among us students, there was found an active reflex just below the umbilicus. We had to ponder a lot before we could see the connection to the projection above. The person on the bench had a piercing in the tongue. Do you think it is exciting with a piercing or that you look nice with earrings? Everything comes with a price.

Be a good example to your clients.


Protocols are the burden from bad reflexology teachers. Over and over again I see people ask for protocols for diseases. Do you believe in “one protocol fits (fixes) all” for reflexology?

Diseases are named and classified by conventional medicine. Some times conventional medicine do good things, or at least, not so bad. Let’s use the recurring sinusitis as an example. In the ICD 10 classification there are 14 different variants of sinusitis. By asking how to treat sinusitis, the question is in reality; “what is the protocol for treating all of these 14 issues”. In a homeopathic view, the number of  angles to attack sinusitis is innumerable, but can be common is round 10.  The key to select how to do the treatment is the constitution of the client, constitution in a much wider understanding than what is directly related to the sinusitis. It is about the whole life. Here reflexology have much to learn from homeopathy.

So what do a poor newly graduated reflexologist do when confronted with an until now unfamiliar disease? First, if your education did not teach you how to look at the constitution of people, and how to use that information to guide your treatment; change teacher!

During the first treatment use the following protocol: Ask question about life, observe the body, ask question about the body, treat areas that most obvious asks for a bit massage, repeat until the end of treatment. Whatever areas you have treated, it made good for your client. It is impossible to do anything wrong. After the treatment it is time for you to figure out how to help the client in the best way, and a strategy for the next treatments.


This ear might give important information in several contexts.

It is a natural thing for newbies to have questions in such situation. But before asking a question it is essential to give information about what observations that has been done and what information the client has given about its life. It will also be good to present your thoughts about a strategy. There are good questions and there are other questions. Among the good:

  • what other questions is relevant for this client?
  • what kind of changes in the live should i recommend?
  • do you have any opinion on my treatment strategy?
  • are there something specific that I should look for?

Don’t treat diseases, treat people! People have a life and live in a context. Diseases don’t appear out of nothing, they appears in the clients meeting with the life. The only thing a person can do is to change its way of handling this meeting. That can be painful. Your role as a therapist is to facilitate his change. If your client don’t wish to make changes in the life, don’t bother spending your time on it. To be a reflexologist is much more than manipulate reflexes on a body.

Do I have a bad day today? Yes. Hope I have not stepped on too many sore toes.

Lemniscate Microcosmic Orbit

I have made an animation to visualize the orbit. The microcosmic orbit is important in many chi kung practices. Unknown to most is its connection to reflexology trough the torus. I will not describe the practice in details here, but in brief:
When the focus is following the digestive channel, it is inside of the hole of the torus. When the focus is on the frontside or the backside of the body, it is outside of the torus.

The torus is the fundamental shape in reflexology, and biology. More on that later.

The differences between the Lemniscate version and other versions of the microcosmic orbit is that it follows both the Ren and the Du meridians upwards.  According to most prominent sources on TCM, upwards is the fundamental direction of the flow in these meridians. Since other versions of the microcosmic orbit have not followed these directions they have had some side effects, they have made some health issues.

This is one of the issues that I spend time on now a days, both as a therapist and as a karate practitioner.