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WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN REFLEXOLOGY AND MASSAGE

Nina J. Friday, September 14, 2018

Reflexology is a form of bodywork that involves applying pressure to the hands and feet to produce changes in pain and other benefits elsewhere in the body. Reflexology, although it's often combined with massage, is technically not a form of massage. It's a separate practice that applies pressure to reflex zones on your feet, hands or outer ears to affect your entire body.


How Does Reflexology Work?

The underlying theory behind reflexology is that there are certain points or "reflex areas" on the feet and hands that are connected energetically to specific organs and body parts through energy channels in the body. By applying pressure to reflex areas, a reflexologist is said to remove energy blockages and promote health in the related body area.


Here are some examples of reflex areas and their corresponding body parts:

The tips of the toes reflect the head

The heart and chest are around the ball of the foot

The liver, pancreas, and kidney are in the arch of the foot

Low back and intestines are towards the heel


Massage therapist or reflexologist?

Although some massage therapists have a basic working knowledge of reflex zones and use it in their massage practice, foot or hand massage isn't necessarily using reflex zones. Many styles of massage include foot or hand massage techniques not related to reflex zones.

Reflexologists specialize. A reflexologist may also be a massage therapist, but some reflexologists are not. A session from a reflexologist typically lasts from 30 to 60 minutes, and you only need to remove your shoes and socks for foot reflex work. Who do you want to see? It depends on what you're looking for. Do you specifically want reflex zone work or do you just want a little reflex zone work mixed in with an overall massage? Both options are perfectly valid.


Although the roots of reflexology go back to ancient Egypt and China, William H. Fitzgerald, an ear, nose, and throat doctor, introduced this concept of "zone therapy" in 1915. American physiotherapist Eunice Ingram further developed the zone theory in the 1930's into what is known as modern reflexology.

According to reflexologists, pressure on the reflex points also helps to balance the nervous system and stimulates the release of endorphins that help to reduce pain and stress.


Why Do People Get Reflexology?

Stress and stress-related conditions

Tension headaches and migraines

Digestive disorders

Arthritis

Insomnia

Hormonal imbalances

Sports injuries

Menstrual disorders, such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

Digestive problems, such as constipation

Multiple sclerosis

Back pain


What Is a Typical Session Like?

A typical treatment is 30 to 60 minutes long and begins with a health history form and consultation about your health and lifestyle. The reflexologist will use the information to customize the therapy.

The reflexologist will assess the feet and stimulate various points to identify areas of tenderness or tension. Brisk movements and massage may be used to warm the hands and feet. Finger or thumb pressure is then applied to the foot using reflexology techniques.

Lotion or oil may be used, and the reflexologist may also use instruments like balls, brushes, and dowels.


What Does Reflexology Feel Like?

Most people find reflexology, for the most part, to be very relaxing.

Reflexology shouldn't be painful. If you feel discomfort, be sure to tell the reflexologist. He or she should work within your comfort zone.

Some areas may be tender or sore, and the reflexologist may spend extra time on these points. The soreness should decrease with pressure.

If you're ticklish, not to worry. The reflexologist applies firm pressure to the feet.


How Will I Feel Afterward?

Most people feel calm and relaxed after a reflexology session. Occasionally, some people feel nausea, sleepiness, and mood swings.


The Takeaway

Although reflexology shouldn't be used as a sole treatment for any condition, it can be a relaxing therapy for your feet with whole-body benefits. Just be sure to find a trained reflexologist and to check with your health care provider to see if it's right for you.


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