According to the Mayo Clinic, studies by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health suggest reflexology can reduce pain, anxiety, depression, stress, and insomnia. It also delivers many of the benefits of more traditional bodywork. "Reflexology can be like a deep-tissue massage," Colin explains. "You can hit all those reflex points and still make the treatment feel relaxing."
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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”?
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There’s just no reason to push a client to that “cringe point.” It’s ham-handed, tends to indicate a simplistic “more is better” approach to the work, and simply isn’t needed — that’s not what defines “intensity” in a good massage. Very strong and sastisfying pressure can always be achieved without that edgy, nervous-system-almost-rebelling feeling.
Massage should not be done directly over bruises, inflamed or infected skin, skin rashes, unhealed or open wounds, tumors, abdominal hernia, fragile bones, or areas of recent fractures. Massage may cause bruising and rarely, hematoma (a localized collection of blood outside of blood cells), venous thromboembolism, and a condition known as spinal accessory neuropathy.
Inflammation caused by chronic stress and muscle tension can lead to worsened overall health, longer recovery time, reduced immune function and cardiovascular problems, such as high blood pressure. Studies have found that massage therapy can help lower cortisol levels and even boost production of the hormone called oxytocin, which relaxes the body and has soothing effects. (7) Oxytocin is the primary hormone responsible for sustaining social bonds in humans and increasing motivation for cooperative behaviors, which is why it’s often called the “cuddle hormone” and known to be released during hugs, birth, social bonding and from touch.
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Now that you know the difference between the two techniques, you may have an idea that massage is done from the outside-in, keeping in view the muscles to release the tension, while foot reflexology is done from the inside-out, keeping in view the nervous system to strengthen energy. Given that there is an obvious difference between both the approaches, there is another difference in terms of the dressing of the one taking part in the treatment. Generally, a client is fully dressed in a reflexology treatment and they only have to remove their shoes at most. On the contrary, clients have to be entirely undressed for the massage session.
In all cases, such massage techniques are employed in collaboration with other appropriate medical care. For example, encouraging circulation around a bruise, but not directly on it, through the use of compression, cross-fiber techniques or even long, deep strokes is only used after appropriate medical referral and diagnostics indicate that there are no clots formed in the area which may embolize.
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Harriet Hall, MD also known as The SkepDoc, is a retired family physician who writes about pseudoscience and questionable medical practices. She received her BA and MD from the University of Washington, did her internship in the Air Force (the second female ever to do so), and was the first female graduate of the Air Force family practice residency at Eglin Air Force Base. During a long career as an Air Force physician, she held various positions from flight surgeon to DBMS (Director of Base Medical Services) and did everything from delivering babies to taking the controls of a B-52. She retired with the rank of Colonel. In 2008 she published her memoirs, Women Aren't Supposed to Fly.
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Deep tissue and trigger point massages are very similar. The difference is that deep tissue massage uses various traditional massage techniques to work the tissue, whereas trigger point massage is literally looking to manipulate or press on that one point that relieves tension in an entire area (perhaps not even nearby). For both, consider this contraption, which is an invaluable tool for torturing soothing sore muscles all over your body. This is a great guide on doing trigger point therapy for yourself.
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Hydration is key to a good deep tissue massage. Drink plenty of water at least two hours before you arrive. You should also drink water after your massage to flush out the toxins from your body. The massage breaks up the toxins in your muscles, and now they’re ready to exit the body. If you don’t drink enough water, then the toxins will find a new home in another part of your body, and the effectiveness of the massage will be limited.
Reflexology is one of the most used alternative therapies in Denmark. A national survey from 2005 showed that 21.4% of the Danish population had used reflexology at some point in life and 6.1% had used reflexology within the previous year. A study from Norway showed that 5.6% of the Norwegian population in 2007 had used reflexology within the last 12 months.
Deal with general aches and pains. An overall reflexology session can relieve general aches and pains. Most reflex points should be pressed for about 10 seconds at a time. Take your time and press all the reflex points on each one of your feet. Use light pressure and pay attention to any spot that feels sore or painful. When you experience discomfort in a reflex point, the corresponding organ or limb is out of balance.
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Deep tissue massages are not for everyone, and it’s very important to find a well-trained therapist. If you’re actively healing from surgery, have nerve damage or an existing injury, you’re wearing a cast or brace, or you’re pregnant, then talk to your doctor before seeking a massage therapist. Although it’s rare, massages that are poorly performed can sometimes cause increased pain, inflammation and other complications in high-risk patients. (16)
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Evaluating its effectiveness in treating anxiety based on the Women’s Health Questionnaire (WHQ), researchers discovered that while reflexology was not shown to be more effective than non-specific foot massage in the treatment of psychological symptoms occurring during the menopause, it nonetheless led to a 50% decrease in anxiety, which surpassed the control group two-fold. (4)
Reflexology is an alternative treatment for a variety of conditions and has been in use for thousands of years. The ancient Chinese and Egyptians have documented practices similar to reflexology as a treatment for certain afflictions. It involves the reflexologist applying pressure to specific areas in the hands, feet, and ears that affect certain reflex areas of the body.
Also known as zone therapy, Reflexology is based on the principle that an image of the body is represented on the face, ears, hands and feet. Reflexologists apply pressure to these areas with specific thumb and finger techniques. By pressing or stimulating a specific zone, the flow of energy, blood, nutrients and nerve reflexes are restored and balanced.
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Swedish massage is the most popular type of massage in the United States. It involves the use of hands, forearms or elbows to manipulate the superficial layers of the muscles to improve mental and physical health. Active or passive movement of the joints may also be part of the massage. The benefits of Swedish massage include increased blood circulation, mental and physical relaxation , decreased stress and muscle tension, and improved range of motion.
Non-peer-reviewed anecdotal reports suggest that reflexology may be effective in agoraphobia, arthritis, asthma, athletes’ foot, breast disease, bronchitis, cardiovascular disease, claustrophobia, common cold, cramps, cystitis, DM, eczema, emphysema, endocrinopathies, GI tract problems (e.g., constipation and indigestion), headaches, hiccups, hypertension, hypoglycaemia, jaundice, low back pain, menstrual disorders, migraines, neck pain, rheumatic disease, psychosomatic disease, renal disease, sciatica, seizures, sexual problems, sinusitis, sleep disorders, stress, strokes, tension and other conditions.
DTM can be useful to those that are recovering from an injury (once the client/patient is out of the acute phase), for athletes, for people with postural strains, or people with chronic pain. Typically there is an area or a few areas where this type of work is needed. For example, a person who has chronic postural pain/tightness from sitting at a computer, might need DTM to their shoulders, chest, and upper back/neck. They likely, do not need DTM on their whole body. Some therapists might disagree with me here, but I rarely think a full-body, DTM, is needed. It can simply be too much. I would rather see a client more often, for less-intense sessions. It is simply more effective. It is the same as Physical Therapy- it is more effective to do it regularly.
When the body is experiencing pain, it reacts with tension. During a deep tissue massage, discomfort is normal and will be felt if there are inconsistencies within the tissues. Discomfort is described as a "good hurt", the kind that feels good at the same time. On the other hand, pain can be described as being uncomfortable and not tolerated well by the body.
A high attention to detail is important to be successful in sports massage. I also feel my professional communication with clients and other practitioners assists with this process. It’s vital to get all the necessary facts about the client and follow up with them after each session. I also feel it’s important that I have experience in endurance training and racing to help with the rapport with my clients.
Traditionally designed to apply pressure to layers of muscle, tendons and other tissues deep under the skin, deep tissue massage can be very effective in relieving problem areas and is highly therapeutic. Deep tissue massage is generally a modality to consider for athletes as well as the eight-to-five desk job. Muscles easily become tense and deep tissue massage can relieve some chronic patterns of pain and tension, specifically in the back, shoulder and neck areas.
Reflexology practitioners and the professional association have advocated that reflexology is effective for general well-being maintenance and treatment of chronic diseases such as strokes, musculoskeletal disorders, and stress. Due to its soothing massage and non-drug complementary nature, reflexology is widely accepted by general public. Yet, numerous systematic reviews confirmed that strong evidence of the positive effects of reflexology postintervention are lacking despite plenty reported small-scale trial and anecdotal evidence of reflexology for some common ailments. Adequate training of practitioners and reflexology programme accreditation are to ensure correct and consistent services are provided.
We recently received an email from a representative of Modern Reflexology asking if they could advertise their website on ours and offering to pay. Of course, we don’t accept advertising. But I was puzzled as to why they approached us and what they thought was science-based about reflexology. I was intrigued enough to visit their website to learn what “modern” reflexology was all about. I learned about a lot of specific claims I hadn’t heard before, but I found no science whatsoever. By writing this article, I am in a sense giving them the advertising that they asked for; but it will be negative publicity, not positive. Old adage: Don’t wish too hard for what you want; you might get it.