Link between ear- and foot-reflexology

The following video is an animation that tries to show how the foot can be projected in the ear, and how the ear can be projected on the foot. The animation only last for one second. Therefore some of the pictures the animation is based up on follows below. The most usual projection on the foot (based on Ingham’s map) is to have the spine along the medial side. The most usual projection on the ear (based on Nogier’s map) is to have the spine along the posterior edge.
By being aware of this connection it is possible to use two different projections on both the ear and the foot. The one on the foot is what Karl Axel Lind named System 3 projection. For those of you that knows both ear- and foot-reflexology it is hopefully possible to see that this implies that there is also a big head on the heel. The size of it makes it easier to work on details accessible on any little toe. It can be possible to find ear, eye, mouth, nose, brain and cranial sutures.

Are these “new” projections as powerful as the “old” ones? All projections have their good sides and their bad sides. If you don’t get the results you hope for by one, try another. Don’t be afraid to test them, be curious.
Fot til øre1Fot til øre7

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Anxiety and the leg

The following text is the lecture I held at the RiEN conference in Madeira, Portugal, 2014.05.10, and revised 2014.07.05.

This lecture aims to cover the issues of anxiety disorder from the point of view of a frozen stress reaction. New ways of treatment based upon the understanding and power of full- body reflexology are being introduced and further elaborated in the workshop at the conference.

Anxiety disorder

Anxiety disorder is a medical condition which therapists should not diagnose themselves. The term is widely used in society. Clients may claim to have this disorder with or without a GP’s diagnosis.
To ensure a common perception of this diagnosis, the definition by Webster is being used.

an anxiety disorder marked by chronic excessive anxiety and worry that is:

– difficult to control
– causes distress or impairment in daily functioning
– and is accompanied by three or more associated symptoms (as restlessness, irritability, poor concentration, and sleep disturbances)

A thing to note is that this is a chronic disease, it is not one time only anxiety attack. Chronic issues tends to make pattern in the body. These patterns are the key for reflexologists when revealing problems.

Breathing problems and body posture

Breath problems are a well known companion of anxiety disorder. Anxiety can induce breathing problems, and breathing problems can induce anxiety. What causes which can go both ways. This relation is a trace for the type of pattern of interest.

One of the less described reactions of anxiety is the body posture. Wikipedia describes this as: Sufferers of anxiety are also known to assume the fetal position during panic attacks. When going into the fetal position one enters one of the three known stress responses being flight, fight, freeze responses, namely the freeze. It can be viewed as playing dead. A closer analyses of this fetal posture will provide more insight.

In this position, the back is curved, the head is bowed, and the limbs are bent and drawn up to the torso. This is not an ideal position for breathing. As we know; foetuses do not breath. When entering this posture the muscles of the torso’s ventral side are contracted. This position reduces the ability to breathe, both by chest and by the belly. When muscles have been contracted this way it is important to stretch them to counteract. I have not seen such stretching described as an intervention for anxiety in medical literature. A thing to note here is that much of the muscles contracted have their attachment in the sternum area.

Repetition makes permanent

The anxiety disorder is chronic, implying that these kind of anxiety attacks comes repeatedly. It is said: Repetition makes perfect. In this situation it is more correct to say repetition makes permanent. The downward spiral is entered.

Reflexology treatment

It makes sense to approach the treatment of anxiety from two different angels being: 1 Preventing the entering of the fetal position by releasing overall chest tension.
2 Preventing the anxiety attack by reducing the overall stress level.

This can obviously be done by classical foot reflexology. Trained as a full-body reflexologist I have learned to use and apply on my clients, different ways of working within the field of reflexology that have a far better results, higher success rate and faster results.

Releasing the overall chest tension

Starting with the first angel of approach, you will now be introduced to what in full-body reflexology is called system 2.Madeira-fig1

Figure 1

Figure 1 shows a general layout of the projection, without much details. The head, the trunk and the limps can be identified. In this speech the focus will mainly be on two details of it. Figure 2 gives more details of the torso. The junctions of the ribs and the sternum can be found on the ventral side of the leg, on the lateral side of tibia. When sliding over this area pits can be felt. Usually these pits vary in size and form, and in discomfort when palpated. The more treatment on these areas people receive, the more the irregularities will shrink in size. The experiences of discomfort during treatment will also decrease for the client. According to good reflexology tradition, via this area, the area that is projected will be treated. In other words: treating this area will relieve problems in the sternum area. One of the benefits of working on the sternum projection on the leg over the one on the foot is the size of it. In this case the bigger size will also give more details. Another good thing in relation to anxiety is that this projection tends to give better results on problems that have been present for some time. This issue will not be fleshed out today. In the workshop attendees will get the opportunity to gain first hand experience in working on this projection.

An appropriate way to describe this kind of treatment is supporting the body in releasing the pattern related to anxiety. It is an explicit intervention aiming to reverse the negative spiral.

Madeira-fig2Figure 2

Reducing the overall stress level

Then over to approach 2, reducing the overall stress level. In the first figure we saw a projection of the head covering the foot. This head projection is much bigger than the one most reflexologists use on the big toe, giving more details to work on also here. Within full- body reflexology it is common to work with multiple projections on different body parts or even on one body part.

Presuming that the reader is familiar with the relationship between anxiety and the amygdala, this article will not go into that subject. Figure 3 represents the system 2 projection where the amygdalaI is marked. Again, by treating this area, the area that is projected here will be treated. This reflex will enable any emotional chaos to be reduced. In this context this emotional chaos is the anxiety.

Madeira-fig3Figure 3

As experienced reflexologists surely you now ask yourself: What is the marked area in the reflexology chart I use? In the system that I work, what is projected in the area marked in this figure?

A lot of maps are used worldwide. Hopefully you agree that there is a big change to find the reflex point of the adrenal gland in this area. During an anxiety attack the glands are working very hard producing cortisol. But more important in this context, high levels of cortisol increase the probability for anxiety seizure. The negative spiral again. By working on this area we kill two flies with one stone. Obviously this double effect had occurred without any knowledge about the system 2 projection, but when you know, it is easier to utilise also this projection.

As a full-body reflexologist I work with innumerable systems. It is then important to choose those systems that give best results for the client. Having this knowledge and experience, clients suffering from anxiety attacks will be approached in a different way than only treating the big toe.

Using full-body reflexology charts

On most foot reflexology charts, the reflexes in the big toe are more detailed then the other toes. The big toe can have the reflexes for pituitary, hypothalamus, cerebellum, nose, trigeminal nerve and brain lobes. The other toes cover the reflexes of sinuses, sometimes ears or eyes, and occasionally a non detailed brain. Clinical experience with full-body reflexology shows that the best toes to treat any kind of stress are the fourth and the fifth. Even though they are smaller than the big toe, they are the best indicators for high activity level in the neural and hormonal system of the head. All sore spots on those toes are indicating some kind of stress. Just trust the signals from the body, then you will treat the right spots. Painful or sore spots are the indication without giving more detail to which glands are projected. The explanation for this is outside the scope of this speech. It could definitely be interesting to say more about why the anxiety occurred in the first place, but also this will have to be for another time.

For anxiety, stress reduction is alfa and omega. Even if you already worked on those toes, the workshop on full-body reflexology will offer you some interesting knowledge.

This article only reveals a very small part of full-body reflexology. Starting to understand the different projections and the impact they have on clients makes reflexology far more powerful then working only on the widespread reflexes on feet, hands and ears. If your curiosity is triggered, do feel welcome to ask for more information. The shown projections also exist on hands and forearms and even other body parts. New worlds open to those who are willing to experience.

Introduction to full-body reflexology for foot reflexologists

The following text is loosely based on a webinar I held on November 24, 2015, organized by Teresa Heath. It is available here

Published in the ICR newsletter, March 2016.

First one fundamental property of reflexes must be highlighted: Reflexes work bidirectionally. For example, if an injury occurs in the buttock area then the reflex for the buttock on the feet will be affected. It will be similar the other way around. If something happens to the reflex of the buttock on the feet, for example reflexology treatment, then the buttock area will be affected.



Picture 1

If you go to a medical doctor with the condition as shown on picture 1, you might get the diagnosis piezogenic pedal papules. It is papules in the skin, in this case on the heel. In most cases it is idiopathic, it means that the doctor does not know the cause of the condition.


The big question for a foot reflexologist will be if this is a problem in the buttock area that can be treated on the buttock reflex on the foot, or if it is a heel problem that can be treated on the heel reflex. Or if it can be both.


Picture 2

But there is a third possibility. If this is a heel problem appearing on the area of the buttock reflex, it is possible to treat it on the buttock, since the reflexes are bidirectional.


Out of this it is possible to draw the conclusion that since the feet have reflexes for all of the body, then there must also be reflexes all over the body. To me this is obvious. The feet are just another part of the body. I will explain why foot reflexology is most commonly used later.

The next piece of information to examine comes from hand reflexology. The area marked with number 31 in picture 2 represents the sacrum. This does essentially coincide with the buttock reflex. So now we have two reflex areas that represent the buttock area; one on the hands and one on the feet. Because these reflexes are bidirectional it means that the buttock area represents two areas. Namely, areas of the buttock reflex on the foot and the buttock reflex on the hand. From this we can draw a new conclusion, the reflexes are in “layers”.

System 1

Picture 3


I mentioned that the buttock can represent the heal. But how will the rest of that projection look? There are no drawings of this as far as I know, but it is easy to visualise. Picture 3 should be familiar to a foot reflexologist. The physical foot on the left with the projection of the spine. On the right an outline of the body projection. By shifting the right part over the left we can have an impression of how the body is projected on the foot. Now I want you to reverse that view. Imagine that the right side of the picture represents the physical body, and the left side is a big projection showing how the foot is projected on the body. This is what I call a macro-system, the projection is bigger than the body part it projects. As an example, the reflexes for the toes are on the head.

This phenomenon with “layers” allows for the exciting possibility to work on several problems simultaneously on a small area. In other words, there may be one point on the body that represents several of the client’s problems, each problem in its own reflexological projection. That will be a point with reflexes for each of those problems. In such case it is possible to focus the treatment on this point. A typical example can be that lumbar and neck problems will be overlapping.



Picture 4

All projections have their own strengths and weaknesses. A projection that gives good results upon combustion will probably not give so good results upon constipation. This is the reason it is useful to have knowledge about many projections. The projection used by most foot reflexologists is good on acute problems. That is probably one of the reasons it was discovered early, and have in general good effect. For problems that has developed over a longer period, i.e. cancer, this system is not among the best to use.

Some foot reflexologists use two projections without having much awareness of it. The body is projected twice quite similar on the feet. In one the right side of the body is projected on the right foot, and equivalent on the other side. In another the projection is mirrored, the right side of the body is projected on the left foot. Thus we have for example both heart and appendicitis projected on both feet.

In the example with the hand and feet I have only mentioned one projection in each area. In the picture of the face one can see the outline of two different projections. There are innumerable projections, also on the hands and the feet. During the education in full-body reflexology one learns some projections on each part of the body. The goal is that we should be able to interpret the body’s signals when spontaneously showing reflexes and thus be independent of knowing maps with projections.

Many foot reflexologists may use statements as “This is the intestine reflex”, and refer to a foot map. But with the new knowledge about “layers” of projections this becomes less obvious. Because the same area can be a part of the brain reflex in another projection. It can be a part of an eye reflex in a third. Or it can be part of the uterus reflex. I hope you see the need for being careful with this kind of statements.

Picture 1:
Picture 2:
Sarafijn Hand Reflexology by Heinrike Bergmans
Picture 3:
MicroAcupuncture in Practice by Yajuan Wang
Picture 4:
Multireflexology Dien Chan by Patryck Aguilar and Anna Roca


No nerves involved

My impressions is that the most common theories about the mechanisms of reflexology involves the nerve system. I doubt this. I have my own thoughts about these mechanisms, but they will rest now. The one thing that I’m quite sure about is that the nerve system is not involved. To understand the reasons for my opinion much knowledge and understanding of full-body reflexology is needed, so I will not go into such explanation at this moment. Instead of arguing about this I will describe how this kind of theories can be falsified1.
This procedure involves a client with a spine injury that is laming below the point of injury. I have not succeeded in my search for such person, but other might do.
If the nerve system theory is false, applying reflexology on any areas somewhat below the point of injury should give a reflexological effect on the body. Other vice, in the case of no effect at all, the nerve system theory have survived. That is not to say the theory is true, but it is probably the best we have at that moment. For most reflexologists applying reflexology on any areas somewhat below the point of injury can be read as on the feet.
From my experience with Biodynamic massage2 I learned to use an electronic stethoscope. I have taken this knowledge with me into my reflexology practice. I will neither explain this at the moment, but only give the necessary information. By placing the stethoscope on the belly of any client in rest there will hardly be any sounds. There will only be sounds related to the normal digestion. They will have certain qualities and intensities that is quite constant. If then a gut reflex is stimulated intensively, the quality and intensity of the sounds will change in character. By doing this exercise on a handful of clients it should be easy to get familiar with the diversity of the sounds in those two states, and be able to differentiate them.
With this newly acquired knowledge the injured client can then be evaluated. First for a while in resting state, to stabilize. Then in gut stimulated stat. If the quality of the sound from the stethoscope do not change in a similar way as with the first persons, we can conclude that there are no nerve response in the gut as a response of the stimulation. The nerve system theory survived.
If the outcome is changes in the sounds similar to those of the first persons, it can be concluded that stimulating a reflex gives a response despite no nerves are involved. The following theorem will then be valid:

Reflexology can not be explained as a stimuli/response action trough the nerve system.

I will encourage everyone whom do this experiment to report the results, what ever they might be.

1 For more information about falsification take a look at
2 For more information about Biodynamic massage take a look at

Definitions of reflexology

Published in the ICR newsletter, June 2015.
What do we reflexologists do? If you have experienced reflexology trough ought the world you must surely noticed the difference in techniques. You might see big differences even between practitioner with the same teacher. The variety is great. But what ties us together? What is the common denominator of what we do?
I started to work with the definition of reflexology at the meeting of Nordic Reflexology Network 1 in 2007. Both foot reflexologists and full-body reflexologists attended this meeting. We tried to describe the practice of therapists from three countries and two branches of reflexology. Not an easy task, but the result was something everyone could accept, but not necessarily be happy with.
The following is my translation from Swedish to English of the result.

Foot reflexology/full-body reflexology is a form of treatment that use pressure usually on the feet, but even on other parts of the body, such as lower legs, hands, ears. In each of these body parts the whole body is reflected, which is to say that the whole body’s condition is assumed to be reflected in the zones. This promotes the healing process, where the goal is to strengthen man’s self-healing powers.

The idea was to incorporate this text into the national documents describing our profession, for use in marketing and toward governments.
On the AGM of RiEN (Reflexology in Europe Network) 2010 in Barcelona I held a speech about several issues related to defining reflexology in general, and more specific, issues with the definition that RiEN had in the appendix of their constitution. I also came up with a suggestion for a new definition for use in RiEN. It was at this time my interest for defining reflexology really woke up. If there exist a common definition and understanding of what reflexology is and is not, lots of misunderstandings can be avoided. Today more or less all writers and teachers in reflexology have their own opinion about what reflexology is. This will make the value of all research in this area very limited. In many definitions used around the world politics has been aloud to set limits for how reflexology can be defined. In my opinion it is important to separate what reflexology is from what is legal and accepted. There is a need for the ability to exclude therapy modalities that looks similar to the public, but are different for the practitioners. Similarly, there is a need for the ability to include related therapies, that can look very different, even for practitioners. I will go into these things later. The most important thing might be having a solid foundation for further work on the theoretical foundation of reflexology.
Here follows the RiEN definition, with my criticism and my suggested new version.
Current Criticism Changed
Reflexology is an art and science that deals with the principle that there are reflex areas The term reflex imply a stimulation and a response is involved. Iris, teeth, nails are probably not susceptible for stimulation in a relevant manner. Reflexology is an art and science that deals with the principle that there are projections
in the feet and hands (and body) which No reason to list the feet and hands when they are both included in the body. on the body which
correspond to all of the glands, organs and parts of the body. No reason to list glands and organs when they are both included in the body. correspond to parts of the body.
Reflexology is a unique method
To say it is unique is redundant in a definition. If there were other equal methods, it had been enough to refer to them.
Reflexology is the method
of using pressure What about rubbing, stretching, etc.? of affect
applied by the thumb and fingers No reason for not using the elbow, a stick, etc.
on these reflex areas in Reflex must be changed to be consistent with the earlier change. these projections
order to support nature in maintaining homeostasis, Homeostasis is the tendency of a system or organism to stay the same. We want a change to something better. to gain health.
as far as may be achieved for each individual. How far it is done is not relevant for the definition.
It does this by stimulating the reflex areas This is repetition of earlier text.
which may help to relieve stress and tension, improve the blood supply to all areas of the body and promote the correct functioning of nerve impulses.
Why specify these, and drop all other effects?
In 2014 the Danish reflexology organizations was ready with their document Zoneterapeutisk Fagforståelse2. Of cause such document must include a definition. Unfortunately they did not base it on the previous work of Nordic Reflexology Network. But fortunately their new definition was much better.
The following is my translation from Danish to English.

In short, reflexology is a form of treatment, where pressure on one place on the body improves the functionality another place [on the body]. The theory says that the whole body (the macro-system) can be mirrored in a part of the body (micro-systems), which communicates and interacts with the whole.

When I recently was going to include a definition in the document describing full-body reflexology for my organization, Norske Naturterapeuters Hovedorganisasjon3, I wanted to use this Danish definition as a base. In full-body reflexology we use the terms micro-system and macro-system for projections that is smaller and bigger than what they project, respectively. But the size of the projections is not of importance in the context of defining reflexology. Full-body reflexology also use other ways of affecting the body than pressure4. The word “mirror” is usually used in context with surfaces. Full-body reflexologists use a more three dimensional approach. This is the main reasons that there was a need for rewriting.
The following is my translation from Norwegian to English.

Reflexology is a form of treatment, where by affecting one place on the body will improve the condition another place. The theory says that the whole or parts of the body is projected in a part of the body, which communicates and interacts with the whole.

The definitions in this text goes from complex, detailed and limiting to more general and free. This definition does not limit the practitioner regarding tool, techniques, charts, etc. It is free from political influence. It does not favor any schools or traditions in reflexology. It does not say anything about the hypothesis of the mechanisms of reflexology. It includes for example ear acupuncture, but exclude all other types of massage.
As a curiosity I will include how i explain the difference between massage and reflexology. Massage works with only local intentions, reflexology works mostly with distal intentions.
I hope this text can inspire you to philosophize on what you do as a reflexologist. I also hope that you can start a discussion in you organization about this issue. Maybe in the future we can have a common definition. That will be great.


1 NRN is a network open to the public, without membership, without economy, primarily to exchange information between practitioners and organizations in the Nordic countries.
2 Zoneterapeutisk Fagforståelse can be translated to Understanding of the profession Reflexology. This document is still only available in Danish language.
3 NNH is a professional multi modality organization with separate groups for foot reflexologists and full-body reflexologists.
4 Full-body reflexologists are free to use whatever techniques and tools to affect the body they find use full. Examples are needles, light, rubbing, touching.