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The significant difference in the two approaches is their effect on these layers. A Swedish technique uses lubricant to glide over the layers – whether that be on a superficial layer (light pressure) or a deeper layer (firm pressure). There may also be kneading of the muscles, vibration or percussion to stimulate the muscles, and passive and/or active joint movements. All of these techniques serve to increase circulation of blood and lymph, soften and relax the tissues, reduce cortisol levels in the body (the stress hormone), and provide a generalized sense of relaxation for the client.
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.
Reflexology and acupressure are both "reflex" therapies in that they work with points on one part of the body to affect other parts of the body. While reflexology uses reflexes that are in an orderly arrangement resembling a shape of the human body on the feet, hands, and outer ears, acupressure uses over 800 reflex points that are found along long thin energy lines called meridians that run the length of the entire body.
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Beyond the feel-good effects of the treatment, the practice and purpose go deeper than the skin and muscles by taking specific reflex points on the foot to induce a healing response in corresponding organs and areas of the body, as seen in the chart to the left. Kneading the soft fleshy ball of the foot, pulling on the toes, tracing around the heel and pushing deep into the arch are just a few of the many small, intense movements you’ll experience during a reflexology treatment.
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.
On the contrary, foot reflexology is a practice that primarily focuses on reflex maps highlighting the body parts in the feet. This practice is also done using hands with micro movement techniques. The common technique in this kind of treatment includes finger or thumb walking. This treatment can be very relaxing for the entire body and is termed as a better version of a massage.
Finally, a few months ago, I went to Hartford unannounced, and spent a day in Dr. FitzGerald’s offices. I saw patients who had been cured of goiter; I saw throat and ear troubles immediately relieved by Zone Therapy; I saw nasal operations performed without any anesthetic whatever; and — in a dentist’s office — teeth extracted without any anesthetic except the analgesic influence of Zone Therapy.
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.
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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!
The pressure from Swedish massage is ideal for relieving muscle tension, like the kind that builds up from hunching over a computer all day. This tension can sometimes result in knots: trigger points of extremely tense muscle fibers that form tiny nodules. Massage therapists are trained to feel for these knots, and Swedish-massage techniques are ideal for gently coaxing them away.