Certain massage therapists have specialized training in techniques that help treat people with injuries, inflammation, tears and limitations. Although more than one massage session is usually needed to provide relief and see improvements in pain, well-trained therapists can usually recommend practices or stretches for you to try at home that can further help improve healing.
Many people confuse reflexology with massage, Reiki, or acupuncture, but there are essential differences between these therapies.  Massage therapists manipulate larger areas of soft tissue in the body while reflexologists apply pressure to specific points on the feet, hands, and ears.  Unlike either massage or reflexology, Reiki does not involve any physical manipulation or pressure, but instead uses light touch to work with the subtle vibrational field thought to surround the body. Finally, while acupuncture and acupressure, like reflexology, use reflex points on the body to influence other parts of the body, the points are not the same and acupuncture uses points over the entire body.

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Area of focus. Deep tissue massage targets the inner layers of your muscles. It’s used to treat muscle and tendon injuries, pain, and stiffness in your major muscle groups and joints. Swedish massage targets the superficial layers of muscle and focuses on the parts of your body that tend to hold the most tension, such as your neck, shoulders, and back.

The pressure used during a Swedish massage therapy help to relax the muscles and relieve all of the tension that has built up. The touch of the skin also helps to relax the person and to clear their mind of anything that might be bothering them. Therapists suggest a Swedish massage to anyone who is feeling run down or suffering from mild depression.
Swedish massage is one of the most recognized categories of massage techniques. The main focuses of Swedish massage are increasing blood flow and circulation, assisting in draining the lymphatic system to support immune system function, and creating a more relaxed state of being. Unobstructed blood flow and lymph drainage both help keep the body in good working order and are considered essential in maintaining the body’s defenses against illness and disease.

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The deepest work in Swedish massage is accomplished with friction, where the therapist works deep into the muscles with the fingers, elbow, or base of the palm. Using circular movements, the therapist works deeply into the muscle, especially in bony areas, to release adhesions that can restrict movement. Friction helps the client to be more flexible, and it also releases deep seated muscle tension.

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I am a science writer and a former Registered Massage Therapist with a decade of experience treating tough pain cases. I was the Assistant Editor of ScienceBasedMedicine.org for several years. I’ve written hundreds of articles and several books, and I’m known for readable but heavily referenced analysis, with a touch of sass. I am a runner and ultimate player. • more about me • more about PainScience.com

A person receiving a deep tissue massage usually lays on the stomach or back in one position, while deep pressure is applied to targeted areas of the body by a trained massage therapist. The massage is beneficial mostly because it helps stimulate blood flow and relieve muscle tension, while at the same time lowering psychological stress and releasing “happy hormones” like serotonin and oxytocin.

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Even though reflexology does not relate to massage in any way, there are some other therapies with which it does relate to; namely, acupressure and acupuncture. These therapies also focus on the same idea of stimulating the body energy by focusing on the reflex points of the body. These therapies are reflex therapies. The approaches are the same; reflexology uses an orderly arrangement focusing on the reflex points and acupressure and acupuncture uses reflex points that are found in energy lines within the body.
Whenever athletes exercise heavily, their muscles suffer microtraumas. Small amounts of swelling occur in the muscle because of tiny tears. Post-event sports massage helps reduce the swelling caused by microtraumas; loosens tired, stiff muscles; helps maintain flexibility; promotes blood flow to the muscle to remove lactic acid and waste build-up; and reduces cramping. In addition, post-event massage helps speed the athlete's recovery time and alleviates pulls, strains, and soreness.

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Swedish massage is given to increase blood circulation, easing the tension in the body’s muscles and improving the muscles’ flexibility. It stimulates the skin as well as the nervous system to soothe the nerves, reducing both emotional and physical stress. In fact the massage is a staple in most stress management programs. A Swedish massage is given to help with increasing the flow of oxygen in the blood, releasing toxins from the body’s muscles flushing the lactic acids, uric acids, and other type of metabolic wastes out of the body tissues. It can really shorten the recovery time for a muscular strain!!
Due to this techniques harsher pressure, there are certain individuals who should seek pain relief elsewhere. Deep Tissue massages can be dangerous for clients who have blood clots, as the pressure and movements might cause the clots to be dislodged. If you have had blood clots in the past, currently have blood clots or are at risk of forming blood clots, you should consult a doctor before pursuing a Deep Tissue massage. If you are currently recovering from recent surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or are suffering from osteoporosis you too should speak with a doctor before experimenting with Deep Tissue massages. As this is particularly high pressure massage, you should not allow rashes, wounds, tumors, hernias, etc. to be massaged directly. Expecting mothers should also avoid Deep Tissue massages; instead, ask your doctor about therapists that specialize in pregnancy massage techniques.
Deep Tissue massage is much more muscle-tissue focused. Specifically for pain relief, deep tissue massages are characterized by much deeper pressure. They’re great for removing knots and breaking up scar tissue, making them a favorite of athletes, as well as those who do manual labor like heavy lifting, farming or repair work. Unlike the Swedish massage that just works on the top layer of muscle, a deep tissue massage works through to get to the deeper layers of muscle tissue.

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Manipulative approaches to naturally treating pain and other health problems have been utilized for over 3,000 years, dating back to Ancient Egyptian and Chinese civilizations. Pressure massages were used to improve “Qi” (life force or energy), detox the body and promote better liver function — which today can be explained through the process of activating the lymphatic system.

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The best we can say is that there is some reason to believe that painful pressures on muscles might be therapeutic for some people some of the time. Pretty decisive, eh? This is why it drives me nutters that so many therapists insist that strong pressures are “essential” to achieve “a complete release.” It really isn’t possible to know! It really does depend! Why would anyone pretend to “know”?
Hot stone massage is best for people who have muscle pain and tension or who simply want to relax. This type of therapeutic massage is similar to a Swedish massage, only the massage therapist uses heated stones in lieu of or in addition to their hands. It eases muscle tension, improves blood flow, and relieves pain by using heated stones. Hot stone massage may help:
“If your hands and fingers start to scream while you're working, you need to modify what you're doing,” says Bykofsky. “Also, if you notice that you’re sore at the end of your work day, Bykofsky also recommends that you “do the things you suggest to your clients: ice, apply something to help, perhaps take an anti-inflammatory, and, the hard one, rest!”  
Their website seems to conflate reflexology with acupuncture and acupressure. There are five tabs at the top of the home page: (1) Store, which links to a single Amazon.com page selling a reflexology foot massager, (2) Acupressure Points and (3) Reflexology Treatment, both of which have multiple articles on acupuncture and acupressure, (4) Reflexology Machines – foot massagers and acupressure mats, and (5) Courses. Notable by its absence is a tab for scientific studies showing that any of this stuff works.

Diagnosing or treating disease would constitute the practice of medicine and would be illegal for anyone who does not have a professional license to do these things. Although many diagnose and treat disease, I am not aware of any prosecutions. In some states that license massage therapists, unlicensed reflexologists might also be prosecutable for practicing massage therapy without a license [11].

Diabetes: 6 points specified. One of them: “Place your fingers 2 centimeters below the knee, as shown in the picture. Massage this area with a little pressure for 5 minutes every day. It balances the digestive system. Diabetes is said to begin with stomach fire and proper digestion can reduce this problem. You will immediately see the result. This method is also used to prevent aging, arthritis and other forms of weaknesses.”

Massage therapy is also being investigated as an aide to patients with more neuromuscular disorders, such as multiple sclerosis (MS). A Iranian 2013 study published in Clinical Rehabilitation looked at 48 individuals with MS who participated in a five-week massage experiment. They were assigned to one of four groups: massage therapy, exercise therapy, combined massage-exercise therapy and control group.

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You're going to with a foot, you're going to press down just a little and come up and press down and come up, press down and come up. Now sometimes just wave the foot a little bit towards me and that will allow you to go a little deeper. As similarly, you could do finger walking. With finger walking I generally use it on the top of the foot. We could also use it on the sides of the foot. But generally not on the bottom plantar aspect. So, with that, you're just going to be doing the same kind of thing where you come down and come back up and back down again.

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Speaking of matching, our service path, The Elements Way®, means that Elements Massage™ studios will match each of you with the massage therapist that can best deliver a great massage based on the needs and requests you provide. During the session, each therapist will check in with each of you to make sure the massage session is exactly what you want.

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As the name suggests, deep tissue massage applies deep pressure onto specific trouble points. It feels very much like someone is torturing you on purpose by pushing into your knotted muscle, and the massage can leave you feeling sore. It's not just more pressure all over your body, however (which would be true torture), it's very specific, methodical treatment. As Moyer Wellness explains:

Earliest discovery of reflexology was found in Egypt based on the observation of daily life activities including the medical practices.1 Other studies have reported that reflexology emerges from China for the last 5000 years ago but there is no documentation found, so with the finding of hieroglyphic mural in the pyramid located in Saggara, reflexology is considered as a part of Egyptian culture from 2330 BC.3 At the late of 14th century, reflexology was already applied throughout the Europe with another name; zone therapy.9 Father of modern reflexology, Dr. William Fitzgerald (1872–1942) has discovered that zone therapy has been used by Aboriginal American.9 Jenny Wallace from North American Indians tribes used pressure at the feet as one of the sources of healing process.9 Fitzgerald study has brought reflexology practice to be widely used in the United States.3 The discovery of zone therapy was developed from the finding of pressure applied on many parts of body such as hands, nose, ears, and many more can relieve pain sensation.10 Dr. Joe Shelby Riley from Washington has conducted many studies of therapy including reflexology and has used this therapy for many years.9 Eunice Ingham (1879–1974) has worked together with Dr. Riley in 1930's as the therapist and work greatly to help people understand reflexology.8 She shared the technique of reflexology with others by writing many books such as “Stories the Feet Can Tell, Stories the Feet Have Told, and Stories the Feet Are Telling”.9 Reflexology has greater recognition after the emergence of another eminent woman in this therapy world with her book; “Helping Yourself with Foot Reflexology” which reached more than 500,000 copies sold.9
Swedish massage is the therapeutic massage standard for much of the Western world. Developed in the 1800s by Pehr Henrik Ling, it incorporates a variety of specific massage techniques to treat sore muscles, tension, stress, and poor circulation. Most Western massage modalities have their origins in in this form, and the majority of massage therapists in the West are trained in it before they learn any other massage techniques. Swedish massage is so ubiquitous that in Europe that it is known as classic massage.

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Reflexology has been chosen by most people to treat their body health problems because it offers high level of safety and effectiveness. It also offers natural treatment without consuming drugs and it is easy to use.1 Learning reflexology and its application is quite easy, there is no limitation for people to apply it anytime and anywhere.1 Its effectiveness in treating the root of some diseases may lead to many benefits in health concern such as it helps in easing day-to-day stresses and alleviates the effects from injury and illness.1 However, it is not used in diagnosing processes.11

To be effective, a reflexology practitioner must be certified and understand the meridians related to each pressure point. Most spas offer reflexology, and the treatment typically lasts approximately 30 minutes. It’s important to have a conversation with your reflexologist beforehand to discuss your “issues,” whether it is constipation, a tension headache or trouble sleeping.


If a person wants to increase the length of his or her muscles, he or she has to actively use muscles while stretching with the help of a therapist. Doing this increases the muscle’s power as well. Shorter muscles are less powerful than longer ones and can negatively influence the body’s posture. Sports massage is for people who want to be physically active and who expect the most from his or her body.

Reflexology utilizes finger and thumb techniques on the feet and hands to promote deep relaxation, clarity of mind, and a sense of well-being. A session assists with: digestive ailments, hormonal imbalance, structural pain, attention deficit disorders, headache/migraines, sleeping disorders, releasing emotional tension, and strengthening the immune system.

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Reflexology is a systematic practice in which applying some pressure to any particular points on the feet and hands give impacts on the health of related parts of the body.1 Each point of the pressure acts as the sensors on the feet and hands and is links with different parts of body specifically.1 These sensors will be stimulated by applying the reflexology technique in order to improve the blood and energy circulation, give sense of relaxation, and maintain the homoeostasis.2 Reflexology session can be improved by other elements such as aromatherapy, peaceful music, and good environment settings.3 There is a term in reflexology called reflex zone therapy. Reflex zone therapy is where the body is divided into ten longitudinal zones from head to toe. In the reflex zone therapy, there are five zones on both sides of the body in which each zone diverge down the particular arm, and also continue straight down the body and down the particular leg to line up with a toe on the respective foot. Practitioners usually choose the suitable technique to be applied to the reflex zone therapy to gain optimized efficiency and impact. Reflexology is a complementary therapy instead of an alternative therapy to other treatments which patient already has based on reflexology maps.2 Complementary therapies nowadays are applied in many of palliative care or to alleviate a problem without dealing with the underlying cause in order to make patient's emotional, physiological, and spiritual health improve and increase the value of their life.4 Two methods of reflexology that have been accepted internationally are Ingham method and Rwo Shur method. The first method does not use any tools in its practice and the second method utilizes the use of tools such as a wooden stick.2 There are five theories that support how reflexology gives impacts to body health.5 First and second basic theories are related to energy. Energy theory advocates that body parts can communicate using electromagnetic fields and the communication can be blocked based on the surrounding respectively.6 Third and fourth theories indicate that energy flow can be restored and the fourth is about the pathway which is blocked can be opened.7 The last theory proposes that reflexology can break up the lactic acid crystal that usually deposited in the feet and allow energy to flow efficiently.5
“I decided to go into sports massage when I experienced its effects on me as an athlete,” says McElroy. “Despite having no experience as a competitive runner in high school or college, I joined a team and realized I was pretty good. I trained while working full-time and ran my first marathon, missing the Olympic trial qualifying time by 21 seconds.
Thank you for explaining the difference between a deep tissue massage and a firm pressure massage. The place I go to offers different techniques and I have been wondering what the difference was between those two. Good to know that a deep tissue massage uses very little to no lubricant so the muscles can be hooked and grabbed. That one sounds like a really great option.
Take it slow. Remember, the inner and outer charts are for people experienced with foot reflexology. Wait until you feel comfortable with the basics before trying to fully understand how to work the inner and outer charts. You may want to meet with a foot reflexology specialist or consider taking classes if you're interested in the inner and outer charts.[11]

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Reflexologists posit that the blockage of an energy field, invisible life force, or Qi, can prevent healing. Another tenet of reflexology is the belief that practitioners can relieve stress and pain in other parts of the body through the manipulation of the feet. One claimed explanation is that the pressure received in the feet may send signals that 'balance' the nervous system or release chemicals such as endorphins that reduce stress and pain. These hypotheses are rejected by the medical community, who cite a lack of scientific evidence and the well-tested germ theory of disease.[9]


It is important to note that the reflexology group only received two months of treatment, whereas the ibuprofen group had two months. In addition to being “associated with more reduction of intensity and duration of menstrual pain in comparison with ibuprofen therapy,” it appeared that reflexology actually promotes healing and not just pain management.

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Deep tissue massage is best suited for people who engage in highly physical activities, such as running, or those who have an injury or chronic pain. If you have a low pain threshold or are looking for relief of tense muscles, Swedish massage is gentler and may be a better option. Speak to your doctor before trying deep tissue massage if you have an underlying medical condition.

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