Medical glossary

Reflex zones

Reflex zones are small areas of the body located on or underneath the skin’s surface that are linked to other body areas, such as the internal organs or the musculoskeletal system.

The stimulation of reflex zones can result in an indirect effect on the associated organs. Reflex therapy is based on the assumption that nerve endings can transmit stimuli coming from the skin to other regions of the body.

While reflex zones are found in various parts of the body, including the feet, hands, ears, face and trunk, the best-known zones are those falling within the scope of foot reflexology. Reflex therapy is used in alternative medicine both as a prevention tool and a complementary therapy.

Modern reflexology was made popular by the American physician William Fitzgerald, but his work taps into an ancient discipline that was shared across different cultures. In ancient Egypt, China and among some indigenous tribes in North and Central America, practices such as massage, acupuncture, moxibustion or hot stones were commonly used for the treatment of reflex zones. Although the underlying principles of reflexology have not yet been thoroughly explored and scientifically tested, it has been observed that the targeted treatment of reflex zones can positively affect other body areas.