BACKGROUND: Reflexology is a widely used complementary therapy. The effects of reflexology on the cardiovascular system are not well characterised. Arterial stiffness (compliance) is a marker of vascular health. This study aimed to evaluate the effects of reflexology on arterial compliance in healthy volunteers.
METHODS: 12 healthy volunteers (1 male; 11 female; mean age 44.8 ± 10.8 yrs) received 10 min of reflexology on each foot in a single-blind randomised study. The main outcome measures were measurements of cardiovascular parameters including heart rate, blood pressure and arterial compliance (augmentation index).
RESULTS: Reflexology had no significant effect on heart rate, blood pressure or augmentation index (all p > 0.05).
CONCLUSIONS: In healthy volunteers, there were no consistent changes in haemodynamic parameters with a single brief reflexology treatment. Thus from a cardiovascular point of view, reflexology (as delivered) would appear to have a limited (if any) effect on the cardiovascular system.