What it is
A form of foot and hand massage. It’s based on the belief that certain areas on the feet and hands or “reflex points” correspond to the body’s internal organs and systems, like a map.
Why use it
Many people find reflexology relaxing. By pressing on reflex points, meridians are unblocked and this can promote health on the related area of the body.
What to expect
After talking through your case history, you remove your footwear. While you are seated or lying down, the reflexologist works with their hands on your bare feet, possibly using cream or oil. Usually reflexology feels like a relaxing massage, although sometimes the therapist’s touch can be subtle.
Several clinical trials have looked at using reflexology for pain, anxiety, breathlessness and quality of life. Studies have involved small groups of people, so it is difficult to say whether the reflexology had any effect.
Suzanne Grant, Senior Acupuncturist, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, NSW; A/Prof Craig Hassed, Senior Lecturer, Department of General Practice, Monash University, VIC; Mara Lidums, Consumer; Tanya McMillan, Consumer; Simone Noelker, Physiotherapist and Wellness Centre Manager, Ballarat Regional Integrated Cancer Centre, VIC; A/Prof Byeongsang Oh, Acupuncturist, University of Sydney and Northern Sydney Cancer Centre, NSW; Sue Suchy, Consumer; Marie Veale, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Queensland, QLD; Prof Anne Williams, Nursing Research Consultant, Centre for Nursing Research, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, and Chair, Health Research, School of Health Professions, Murdoch University, WA.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
The information on this page is also available for download.
Coping with cancer?
Speak to a health professional or to someone who has been there, or find a support group or forum
Looking for transport, accommodation or home help?
Practical advice and support during and after treatment