The benefits that can be obtained from a professional foot massage, such as one performed by a trained reflexologist, can include mitigation of the symptoms of certain physical and emotional disorders, relaxation, sleep enhancement and a reduction of pain, as noted by research funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute. Studies have shown that the application of reflexology massage therapy had an observed impact on specific organs. An increase in blood flow to the intestines and kidneys, for example, was indicated by the readings obtained from functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI.
A study conducted in India in 2006 demonstrated that postoperative patients receiving reflexology foot massage showed a significantly reduced reliance on pain medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and opioids. Pain scores for the reflexology group were also significantly lower than a control group that did not receive the treatment. Other studies have demonstrated positive results from reflexology treatments that were used to mitigate symptoms of migraine headaches, premenstrual syndrome, diabetes type II and to help improve the quality of life during cancer treatment, as reported by the University of Minnesota and Charlson Meadows.
A fully recognized connection or a clear distinction between reflexology foot massage and accepted medical procedure remains uncertain, but reflexology proponents advise that a distinction be maintained to avoid misconceptions and treatment errors. Licensed massage therapists do, however, recommend professional foot massage as a trusted means of enhancing an overall sense of well-being and relaxation, while also noting its beneficial effects on foot health, spine support and body alignment.