Health, Sports & Psychology

OU on the BBC: Alternative Therapies - Reflexology

Updated Tuesday 11th March 2008

In the BBC/OU series Alternative Therapies, Kathy Sykes asks whether reflexology has important lessons about the value of touch in health

Reflexologists claim that rubbing the soles of your feet can help you with medical conditions ranging from back pain to infertility. And it's becoming big business. There are now some 30,000 reflexologists in Britain working on about one million feet a year.

In this programme, Kathy Sykes explores reflexology. She finds out about its basic idea: that the entire body is mapped onto the sole of the foot. Reflexologists claim that by using this map it is possible to detect problems in particular parts of the body and by pressing specific areas of the foot they can improve the health of those parts, including organs such as the lungs, the liver and the kidneys.

Kathy’s journey starts with a surprise. Despite the often widely held view that reflexology’s origins lie deep in ancient Egyptian or Chinese medicine, it really began in upstate New York in the 1930s.

Kathy then travels to Florida to meet the nephew of the woman who first coined the term reflexology. She also finds out about a reflexologist in Sheffield who believes that she has used the discipline to help bring over 100 babies into the world.

But Kathy also meets mainstream scientists who are troubled by reflexology. They cannot see how its main idea actually squares with conventional science. Kathy explores the scientific evidence and the evidence for any health benefits and reaches her own conclusions.

Kathy then meets with a professor in Hull who is using reflexology not to deal with a specific disease, but to help cancer patients feel relaxed. This takes her journey off in a whole new direction exploring the power of touch and massage and whether they can help us cope with the stresses of everyday life.

First broadcast: Monday 17 Mar 2008 on BBC TWO

 

For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

Have a question?

Other content you may like

Journeying through Wellbeing Creative commons image Icon The Open University under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0 license activity icon

Health, Sports & Psychology 

Journeying through Wellbeing

Take a journey through Wellbeing and see how factors such as where we grow up, what happens to us, and our physical health, can all impact on our mental health and wellbeing.  

Activity
Is reflexology valid? Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: photos.com article icon

Health, Sports & Psychology 

Is reflexology valid?

Although scientific investigation has offered little support for the claims of reflexologists, there is still a demand for their services. Hilary McQueen considers a therapy which offers many theories, but little solid proof.

Article
Hollywood Highlights: The Social Network Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Ljupco Smokovski | Dreamstime.com article icon

Health, Sports & Psychology 

Hollywood Highlights: The Social Network

In 2004, during his sophomore year at Harvard, Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook. In summer 2010 there were 500 million active users. 'The Social Network' tells the story of an idea that would go on to revolutionise the way people communicate; along with the inevitable controversies. So what makes social networking so important?

Article
Introducing Richard Sennett Creative commons image Icon Ars Electronica under CC-BY-NC-ND licence under Creative-Commons license article icon

Health, Sports & Psychology 

Introducing Richard Sennett

The polymath Richard Sennett offers new ways of thinking about how society produces, consumes and the way we work now.

Article
Roeland Vos on letting your staff be heard Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: The Open University audio icon

Health, Sports & Psychology 

Roeland Vos on letting your staff be heard

"We have 'black belts' who help bubble-up ideas"

Audio
5 mins
Personal Best: Values Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: The Open University video icon

Health, Sports & Psychology 

Personal Best: Values

OU sports academic Simon Rea and athletes share their tips on goal setting and why it is important to align our goals with our values.

Video
DEBATE: Should we have a smaller financial services sector? Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Aprescindere | Dreamstime.com activity icon

Health, Sports & Psychology 

DEBATE: Should we have a smaller financial services sector?

Do you think we should have a smaller financial services sector? Vote in our poll and leave your comments

Activity
Dementia care: Modelling good care Creative commons image Icon K.Kendall under CC-BY-2.0 licence under Creative-Commons license article icon

Health, Sports & Psychology 

Dementia care: Modelling good care

How can you empower those with dementia and keep them involved in social situations?

Article
Honor Auchinleck's story Creative commons image Icon solar power 2 / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 under Creative-Commons license article icon

Health, Sports & Psychology 

Honor Auchinleck's story

Explore the personal side of climate change with Honor Auchinleck's diary entry.

Article