I am a science writer, former massage therapist, and I was the assistant editor at ScienceBasedMedicine.org for several years. I have had my share of injuries and pain challenges as a runner and ultimate player. My wife and I live in downtown Vancouver, Canada. See my full bio and qualifications, or my blog, Writerly. You might run into me on Facebook or Twitter.
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.
It’s just a theory: no one knows if this is actually effective.11 However, it may explain why so many massage patients report a “gets a bit worse before it gets much better” response to quite painful treatments: motor end plates are (painfully) destroyed by strong pressures, and then that tissue is quite sensitive and a bit weak as it heals over a day or two … and then you finally feel much better after that!

For the past hour, Dewa has been pinching me (hard!) between my toes, a reflexology thing, and kneading my flesh to coax the Kundalini energy up from the base of my spine through my chakras. — Alex Postman, Condé Nast Traveler, "Finding the Bali You Came For," 16 Nov. 2018 Services that will be offered are manicures, pedicures, chair massage, facials and reflexology. — Courant Community, "Community News For The Stafford Edition," 8 May 2018 The 90-minute Mindful Massage is designed to be clarifying and deeply relaxing, incorporating a scalp massage with warm rose quartz crystals, breathing and visualization techniques, foot reflexology, and, of course, a full body massage. — Natalie B. Compton, GQ, "Spring Clean Your Winter Bod at These Wellness-Focused Luxe Hotels," 29 Mar. 2018 This winter, neighbors are still fundraising to complete the park, which will include a reflexology path. — Beth Nordlund, Anchorage Daily News, "From off-leash dogs to reflexology paths, neighbors have plans for Anchorage parks," 31 Jan. 2018 Afterward, soothe aching muscles at Aura Spa on Main Street, which offers everything from balancing hot-stone massages to reflexology. — Christina Pérez, Vogue, "A Weekend in Park City, Utah: Where to Eat, Stay, and Play During Sundance," 18 Jan. 2018 The Exhale Spa offers reflexology and Thai stretching. — Condé Nast Traveler, "Gansevoort Turks + Caicos," 20 Oct. 2017 Her little baby… is just, like, sleeping while knitting… and her toddler is like giving her a reflexology massage. — Lisa Przystup, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Rise of Picture-Perfect Motherhood," 27 Sep. 2017 His offerings of Chinese herbs to build my immune system, a referral for reflexology for hormonal balance and relaxation, meditation, and dietary changes — all felt good. — Author: Mary Katzke, Alaska Dispatch News, "Cancer survivor testifies to the ways of healing," 23 Sep. 2017
Sports massage can be an interesting career choice for therapists who want to do it full time. Professional sports teams often have massage therapists on staff to keep athletes' bodies working at their very best. It helps to have a keen interest in anatomy and physiology, advanced training and experience in sports massage, an interest in sports, and a desire to work with athletes.
A statistic has showed that there are more than 5000 registered reflexology centres in Malaysia. Currently, reflexology is a big industry in Malaysia with a huge unexploited potential for tourism and human capital, especially for disabled people. Owing to that, Ministry of Health has published the good practice guidelines for reflexology in 2011 to strengthen and govern its operations.2 Different use of reflexology and the effect of reflexology are listed below:

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Swedish massage therapy is the modality that comes to mind when most people think about massage. As the best-known type of bodywork performed today, one of the primary goals of the Swedish massage technique is to relax the entire body. This is accomplished by rubbing the muscles with long gliding strokes in the direction of blood returning to the heart. But Swedish massage therapy goes beyond relaxation. Swedish massage is exceptionally beneficial for increasing the level of oxygen in the blood, decreasing muscle toxins, improving circulation and flexibility while easing tension.

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.
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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Reflexologists work from maps of predefined pressure points that are located on the hands and feet. These pressure points are reputed to connect directly through the nervous system and affect the bodily organs and glands. The reflexologist manipulates the pressure points according to specific techniques of reflexology therapy. By means of this touching therapy, any part of the body that is the source of pain, illness, or potential debility can be strengthened through the application of pressure at the respective foot or hand location.

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Thank you so much for your article The Pressure Question in Massage Therapy. I just read it all. I went for a sports massage two weeks ago as I was recommended to have one as it was suggested it might help with tight calves, a side effect of some other injuries I have. I’ve been for sports massages many, many times before over the years. This one was one of the most painful experiences of my life — when I got home I was almost sick and felt in shock. My right achilles tendon was raging and it’s been bad ever since. It hurt so much when it was done (like someone was sticking knives in) and I kept asking if it was meant to hurt. I wish I’d just stopped the session or objected but I didn’t. It used to be a bad injury that affected me walking for about 6 months so I’m just devastated about this. I can hardly bear to put shoes on and its all this time on. I know there are good practitioners out there but experiences like this just make me want to stay away. I wish I’d gone to a “gentle” one.
Friction strokes work on deeper muscles than the techniques previously described. The friction technique is a pressure stroke and is the deepest that is used in Swedish massage. The massage therapist applies pressure by placing the weight of his or her body on the flat of the hand and the pads of the thumbs, knuckles, fingers, or the back of the forearms, and then releases the pressure slowly and gently. This movement should be a continuous sliding motion or a group of alternating circular motions.

Reflexology, also known as zone therapy, is an alternative medicine involving application of pressure to the feet and hands with specific thumb, finger, and hand techniques without the use of oil or lotion. It is based on a pseudoscientific[1] system of zones and reflex areas that purportedly reflect an image of the body on the feet and hands, with the premise that such work effects a physical change to the body.[2]


Popular among active people, Swedish massages are the perfect balance between toning and relaxation. Their numerous benefits, such as muscle tension relief, improved circulation, and reduced side effects of stress, are designed to revitalize the body. Using gentle-to-medium pressure, each kneading and stretching motion is adapted to your needs and is used specifically to warm your muscles and loosen your joints. This massage is one of the most popular  in the Western world.

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Although only one controlled trial of reflexology therapy, done in 1993, has been documented in medical journals, this therapy is practiced worldwide at different levels of medical care. In Russia, for example, only licensed physicians may legally perform reflexology treatment. In contrast, the practice is a commonplace homestyle remedy in the Netherlands. The Internet "Home of Reflexology" lists at least 66 professional organizations worldwide, including New Zealand and Malaysia. Associations include the following:
In recent times, Sir Henry Head first investigated the concepts underlying reflexology in England in the 1890s. Therapists in Germany and Russia were researching similar notions at approximately the same time, although with a different focus. Less than two decades later, a physician named William H. Fitzgerald presented a similar concept that he called zone analgesia or zone therapy. Fitzgerald's zone analgesia was a method of relieving pain through the application of pressure to specific locations throughout the entire body. Fitzgerald divided the body into 10 vertical zones, five on each side, that extended from the head to the fingertips and toes, and from front toback. Every aspect of the human body appears in one of these 10 zones, and each zone has a reflex area on the hands and feet. Fitzgerald and his colleague, Dr. Edwin Bowers, demonstrated that by applying pressure on one area of the body, they could anesthetize or reduce pain in a corresponding part. In 1917, Fitzgerald and Bowers published Relieving Pain at Home, an explanation of zone therapy.

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Imagine there is a connection between zones of your feet and hands that represent certain areas of your body that can be adjusted or managed through these zones. A lot of the theory behind reflexology has to do with aligning your qi, but even for those who normally don’t invest much in this discipline, there are plenty of studies that have supported the claims of reflexologists.
A statistic has showed that there are more than 5000 registered reflexology centres in Malaysia. Currently, reflexology is a big industry in Malaysia with a huge unexploited potential for tourism and human capital, especially for disabled people. Owing to that, Ministry of Health has published the good practice guidelines for reflexology in 2011 to strengthen and govern its operations.2 Different use of reflexology and the effect of reflexology are listed below:

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People who suffer from the following conditions or disorders should consult a physician before participating in a sports massage: acute infectious disease; aneurysm; heavy bruising; cancer ; hernia; high blood pressure; inflammation due to tissue damage; osteoporosis ; phlebitis ; varicose veins ; and certain skin conditions. Individuals who are intoxicated are not good candidates for sports massage.
  Consider the possibilities of reflexology: Connecting with others using reflexology as you help them be well; Taking control of your own well-being using reflexology; Helping your family members or friends through difficult times of health problems with reflexology; Developing a career of hands-on work with others in the field of reflexology. Fond family memories, […]

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Normally, it is not a painful treatment but if you feel any sort of pain, you must inform your therapist and they will sort it out for you. The chances of pain can be because of your comfort zone; you may not be seated properly or the angle of your feet is not in its natural position. Additionally, therapist will always give more time to the parts that you have discussed about in the beginning. The painful parts are given more priority and pressure is given to the reflex points of those parts.
Deep Tissue is a very specific massage treatment in which the therapist uses knuckles and elbow's to "strip out" muscle tissue as far down to the bone as possible. Sound invasive? It is! It is definitely not for everyone. However there are millions of people out there that would never have their treatment any other way. This modality can be helpful to the following people: athletes who are considerably harder on their bodies than the average person, people who are undergoing physical therapy to aid in the breakdown process of scar tissue, (AFTER PROPER HEALING FROM THE INJURY HAS OCCURED), or anyone who has very dense tissue and thus responds better to the work.
This 1.5 Hours hands-on personal instruction with one of our highly trained therapists will guide the two of you through a customized series of at-home massage techniques focusing on the scalp, neck, shoulders, back and feet. Followed by a 60 minute Therapeutic Couples Massage. Maximum two-person private instructions session. Not available on Saturday.
Some possible justifications for painfully intense massage (these aren’t endorsements) include the destruction of motor end plates to “de-activate” trigger points; somatoemotional release (pain often strongly “resonates” with strong emotions like grief); moving tissue fluids; or just creating a strong, novel sensory experiences (which may have many subtle benefits).

Integrative Reflexology is defined as “massage therapy-based reflexology, practiced as both energy work and bodywork.” Integrative reflexology is an holistic discipline which uses the therapist’s hands to apply alternating and firm pressure to stimulate physiological changes in the body. The therapist activates the zone reflex points and meridian points to create beneficial responses in the nervous, electrical and chemical systems of the body. Integrative Reflexology allows the body to relax by releasing tension and improving blood flow. It helps the body to adjust to its own healthy balance.
Sports Massage is a combination of massage strokes and techniques combined with flexibility and specific exercise routines geared to increase an athletes performance capabilities. The application of Sports Massage is determined by ones own specific anatomical and physiological needs. Basic musculoskelatal evaluations, orthopedic assessments, and flexibility analysis do this. By determining the athletes specific needs, the Sports Massage therapist will not only be able to provide increased strength, speed and flexibility, but also improve biomechanical efficiency and decrease the potential for injury. This is a comprehensive program with a shared responsibility between the Sports Massage Therapist and the athlete.
I’ve worked in a variety of exciting environments, including the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, the Greece Paralympic Summer Games and on the road with the U.S. National Powerlifting Team. Plus, I have worked with collegiate, ABL and WNBA athletes. Currently, I travel with the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) as part of the sports science and medicine team. In my private clinic, I specialize in orthopedic massage.
And you'll see, I am supporting the foot with my thumb on the other side. So, my thumb is moving to, you could actually move down between all of the metatarsal's here. Hook and back up, you're going to be using our thumb and you'll go into a point and then you press down and then you're going to have pull out just a little bit. It can be very deep. So, just be mindful and check in with your person, make sure you're not hurting them.
Swedish massage was invented by a Swedish fencing instructor named Per Henrik Ling in the 1830s. When he was injured in the elbows, he reportedly cured himself using tapping (percussion) strokes around the affected area. He later developed the technique currently known as Swedish massage. This technique was brought to the United States from Sweden by two brothers, Dr. Charles and Dr. George Taylor in the 1850s. The specific techniques used in Swedish massage involve the application of long gliding strokes, friction, and kneading and tapping movements on the soft tissues of the body. Sometimes passive or active joint movements are also used.
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.

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.
While a foot massage may feel the same as a reflexology treatment, a reflexologist will work on areas to promote a healing response in the corresponding organs. A massage therapist giving a foot massage will manipulate muscles and other soft tissues to improve circulation, relieve pain, and heal injuries in the area or to induce overall relaxation.

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“The number one thing therapists should do to protect themselves from injury is avoid doing too much work,” says Bykofsky. She also recommends not over-scheduling, working too many hours, or holding too many deep massage sessions a week. Also, take advantage of other “tools” at your disposal, such as different parts of your hands and arms, using them for leverage to take some of the pressure off your thumbs.

How are NMT and Sports Massage treatments different from a basic massage Treatment? While each system uses a hands-on approach to soft tissue manipulation, NMT and Sports Massage are extremely specific. Like massage therapy, NMT and Sports Massage address the muscle bellies, but they also go to work with the entire length of the muscle from origin to insertion. Instead of a general approach, Sports Massage identifies postural and biomechanical distortions that are involved with pain patterns. These systems also go on to strategically manipulate specific soft tissue components to facilitate structural change and balance.

Similar to Thai massage, in a Swedish massage the client’s joints and muscles are compressed and stretched. This can cause an immediate release of energy that might cause the skin to flush. Clients might also experience a few temporary aches as the body readjusts itself, depending on their level of flexibility and any current physical ailments. For example, a person who arrives at a practitioner’s office with an ultra-tight muscle that has been traumatized may experience some pain while the trauma is massaged out and worked through. In massage, areas of stress and pain can act as blockages to the body’s circulation, energy flow, and overall well-being.
This is a romantic escape for couples wishing privacy and to enjoy each other’s company in a seductive atmosphere. When you are in the couple’s suite, on side-by-side tables, two therapists will provide massages simultaneously in pure awareness of the energy surrounding you. Guests may use the session to communicate and chat or they may simply relax and enjoy their shared experience in comfortable silence.

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In addition to my private practice, I work with patients at the Initiative for Women with Disabilities (IWD) at NYU Medical’s Hospital for Joint Diseases. Many of the patients I see are dealing with issues such as chronic pain, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, and rheumatoid arthritis, and find reflexology a beneficial way to incorporate integrative therapies into their treatment.
Upon entering the suite, you are surrounded by aromatic therapy that will envelop you in a sense of relaxation. Our aphrodisiac oil will stimulate your sensuality and feeling of togetherness that will enhance your spiritual connection. During the session, two people receive massages at the same time and in the same room from two different therapists.

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.[14] A study from Norway showed that 5.6% of the Norwegian population in 2007 had used reflexology within the last 12 months.[15]

Sports massage can play an important part in the life of any sportsman or woman whether they are injured or not. Massage has a number of benefits both physical, physiological and psychological. It can help maintain the body in generally better condition, prevent injuries and loss of mobility, cure and restore mobility to injured muscle tissue, boost performance and extend the overall life of your sporting career.
There are maps for the feet, hands and the outer ears (see Reference section). For example, in the feet, the left foot corresponds to organs on the left side of the body, while the right side of the foot corresponds to the right side of the body. More specifically, the gallbladder is on the right side of the body, and therefore the reflex point is on the right side of the foot.
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]
Typically, sports massage therapists hold a certification and maintain licensure. A good option is to become board certified through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) and have an active membership with an association, like AMTA, to keep up to date with industry trends. Exact requirements depend upon the state in which the sports massage therapist practices.

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A couples massage can make a romantic gesture or gift for a close friend or loved one. During the experience, two therapists work side-by-side to sweep away aches and stresses from both people.. While therapists often use Swedish massage techniques, individual experiences are often customizable. Couples massages are centered on bonding together through relaxation. Book a couples massage near you through one of our deals and enjoy a relaxing afternoon with someone you love.
While there are numerous benefits to this branch of massage, elementsmassage.com reminds you that it is important to keep your expectations for the treatment reasonable. While Deep Tissue massages use more pressure to reach deeper muscle tissues and often yield immediately noticeable results, asking your therapist to apply more pressure and gritting your way through pain will do more damage than good. If you are in pain, your muscles will begin to contract, making the therapist’s efforts moot. Applying more pressure will not speed up the process. Like any treatment, Deep Tissue massages need time to be effective. Keep in mind that the injury or muscle tension that you are hoping to get resolved has had a great deal of time to form; it will take time to undo the damage. Like any treatment, often the therapy will not be enough; including other changes to your life style, such as exercise, relaxation techniques or working on posture in addition to your massage appointments will help move the process along and help you see faster and longer lasting results.
Post-event sports massage is given after a competition and is mainly concerned with recovery. It is geared toward reducing the muscle spasms and metabolic build-up that occur with vigorous exercise. Recovery after competition involves not only tissue normalization and repair, but also general relaxation and mental calming. A recovery session might be 15 minutes to 11/2 hours in length. Post-event sports massage is given after a competition and is mainly concerned with recovery. It is geared toward reducing the muscle spasms and metabolic build-up that occur with vigorous exercise. Recovery after competition involves not only tissue normalization and repair, but also general relaxation and mental calming. A recovery session might be 15 minutes to 11/2 hours in length. 
Avoid drinking alcohol before, during and after giving yourself a reflexology treatment, as you may discover the treatment itself increases the effect of alcohol. Additionally, using alcohol in conjunction with reflexology may create more stress on the body organs as the body tries to process the reflexology treatment and clear your body of the alcohol.
Stress contributes up to 80% for the development of any illness. Other 20% of stress will influence other conditions.1 Reflexology offers common benefits and one of them is reducing stress by applying pressure to the specific area at feet and hands which may induce general relaxation while relaxing the targeted area concurrently.1 Reflexology is one of the ways to interrupt the pattern of repetitive stress that people usually have according to their lifestyle.1 They will operate more effective with a number of reflexology sessions because the first application will intervene the stress operation and further sessions will improve the body condition.1 Besides, reflexology also allows the body to get off from any stress in everyday life.1
Plantar fasciitis. According to the JAMA Network, plantar fasciitis occurs when the fibrous band on the bottom of the foot becomes irritated and inflamed, causing pain in the heel and arch areas. The Pacific College of Oriental Medicine further indicates that deep tissue massage can be an effective treatment for this particular condition as it helps “release the muscle tension, break scar tissue, and lead to its elimination.”

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In sports massage, the massage therapist generally concentrates on a specific problem area that you present, usually associated with some sort of sports activity, such as running, tennis, or golf. The most important thing with sports massage is that you find a specially-trained massage therapist who has mastery of a wide range of techniques and knows when to use them. In the past, many spas used to put sports massage on their menu as a way to appeal to men. As spas have become more sophisticated, however, they realize they shouldn't list sports massage unless they have some therapists with specialized training.
How are NMT and Sports Massage treatments different from a basic massage Treatment? While each system uses a hands-on approach to soft tissue manipulation, NMT and Sports Massage are extremely specific. Like massage therapy, NMT and Sports Massage address the muscle bellies, but they also go to work with the entire length of the muscle from origin to insertion. Instead of a general approach, Sports Massage identifies postural and biomechanical distortions that are involved with pain patterns. These systems also go on to strategically manipulate specific soft tissue components to facilitate structural change and balance.
Swedish massage is focused primarily on the body and, therefore, is a more physical approach to relieving stress, aches, pains, and tension. One benefit of Swedish massage is its ability to relax the mind-brain connection—the mind being the energy and thoughts, and the brain being the physical matter. This is thought to contribute to a more balanced, stimulated, and integrated system. A healthy mind-brain connection may also help facilitate better physical health.

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