A number of clinical studies have now been conducted into the effectiveness of reflexology as a treatment. Here are summaries of just a few.


Expectant Mothers Helped by Reflexology


Ten studies show the impact of reflexology on issues important to expectant mothers. Research shows that women given reflexology work during pregnancy or labour experienced shorter labour times and less analgesia use. In addition, reflexology work aided with the problems of retention of the placenta and primary inertia during labour, helping the women avoid surgery or medication.


Reflexology during pregnancy


Pregnant women given 10 foot reflexology sessions from 20 weeks into their pregnancies to term experienced a better labour time than textbook figures. The average for those receiving reflexology work was: first stage, 5 hours; second stage, 16 minutes; and third stage, 7 minutes. This compared to textbook figures of 16 to 24 hours’ first stage, and, 1 to 2 hour’s second stage. In addition, 89.0% of the women experienced a normal delivery. (1) One study found that women who received 4 or more sessions experienced less analgesia use and more forceps deliveries. In comparison to the control group who received no reflexology treatment, they showed no difference in onset of labour and duration of labour. (2) Questions have been raised about validity of this study: “The findings should not be taken as particularly significant clinical value since some of the women received only one session of reflexology at 39 weeks.” (


Reflexology during labour


Research demonstrated that reflexology given to women during labor showed a 90% effective rate as a pain killer during delivery. (3); Another study showed an effective analgesia rate of 94.4%. (4)


Women in the foot reflexology group of one study experienced an average birth process of 2.48 + 1.48 hours versus the control group (intravenous drip of 10% glucose plus a vitamin C injection) with an average birth process of 3.32 + 1.19 hours (4)


Reflexology was applied in two 30 minutes sessions to women diagnosed with primary inertia during labour during a research study. Assessment of dilatation of the cervix showed that 70% of them made progress when treated with reflexology. In the control group, 38% of women offered extra supportive midwifery care made progress.


Research showed that, among women given reflexology work during labour, 11 of the 14 experiencing retention of the placenta after giving birth avoided an operation to correct the situation. (3)


Lactation in new mothers


Research showed that new mothers who received reflexology work initiated lactation in 43.47 hours (+12.39 hours) and in comparison to the control group average of 66.97 hours (+28.16 hours). At 72 hours satisfactory lactation was documented in 98% of the foot reflexology group and 67% of the control group. Reflexology work helped avoid use of drugs in lactation that may be harmful to the baby. (6)


Post partum


In a controlled study of postpartum women experiencing anxiety and depression, six hours of reflexology work demonstrated a significant difference for foot reflexology with traditional Chinese medicine foot bath group when compared to control groups. (7)


In another study, postpartum women given six hours of foot reflexology work with traditional Chinese medicine foot bath showed a significant difference in: appetite; lactation; anxiety and depression scores when compared to the control group. (158)*+


Research showed that post partum women recovering from Cesarean section showed a significantly shorter first voiding time when receiving foot reflexology or machine (electric foot roller) foot reflexology as compared to the control group. (9)


Post partum women recovering from Caesarean birth showed a significant difference in time to first defecation when receiving reflexology for three days as compared to the control group. (10)




“Using Reflexology to Relieve Chronic Constipation” (from the Danish Journal of Nursing, 24, June ’92)


This was a Pilot Study: 20 women, 30-60 years of age, defecation interval two days or more, suffered from constipation from 5-54 years with an average of 24.6 years. Treatment procedure: per person: 15 free treatments (2 per week for 4 weeks, minimum 2 days between each treatment, and then one treatment each week for 7 weeks)