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.
In Japanese, shiatsu means "finger pressure." For shiatsu massage, the therapist uses varied, rhythmic pressure on certain precise points of the body. These points are called acupressure points, and they are believed to be important for the flow of the body's vital energy, called chi. Proponents say shiatsu massage can help relieve blockages at these acupressure points.
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.

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One of the key benefits of Sports massage therapy compared to other modalities is its ability to target muscle-tendon junctions. A 2010 study in the journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that even a 30-second massage improved hip-flexor range of motion. Another study conducted by Margaret Jones, Ph.D. of the American College of Sports Medicine, demonstrated a notable trend toward decreased muscle soreness in the athletes who received massage either before or after exercise.

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People respond in different ways to a massage so if you have the luxury to try one at different times in your training then determine what is right for you. However, the majority of people will tend to favor the post-race/post-long workout time more. Both are beneficial but the pre-race massage will stimulate your muscles whereas the post-race massage is more of a cool-down/recovery massage.

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Stroke is the condition where the blood supply to the brain is interrupted because of some reasons that may cause many health problems.27 It usually occurs due to blood vessels ruptures. Many patients have tried reflexology as the alternative therapy in order to recover from strokes. The practitioners believe that pressure that they exerted on a particular point on reflex areas may induce a positive outcome and physical changes to the body.28

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RCTs have a vital role in the assessment of efficacy in reflexology. However, they only address the effect of reflexology in which other pertinent issues are unexplored such as the mechanism of reflexology, psyche, and the experience of participants receiving reflexology. Nursing research has long used qualitative research to explore various health care phenomena. Similarly, qualitative approach can provide further understanding about the patient's perception and belief towards reflexology.4, 36 Qualitative research also assists in understanding the impact of the context and the process of reflexology intervention. A greater understanding of reflexology intervention has the potential to enhance the delivery of health care. Thus, it is argued that qualitative explorative methods combined with RCTs could potentially reveal the contributing factors of reflexology effect.
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
Addressing anything from headaches to sinus problems to stomach issues, if sensitivity or tenderness is experienced when certain areas of the foot are stimulated, it usually indicates bodily weaknesses or imbalances within the corresponding organ. With repeated practice of applying pressure and manipulating nerve endings (traditionally in the foot), reflexology can help to clear any channels of blocked energy through moving the flow of blood, nutrients and nerve impulses to ultimately improve overall health and balance. In addition to manipulating the pressure points on the foot, reflexologists sometimes work on the hands or ears to trigger relaxation as well.
At certain times during the massage, you may feel some discomfort or even some pain as the massage therapist works on areas where there are adhesions or scar tissue. Pain isn't necessarily good, and it's not a sign that the massage will be effective. In fact, your body may tense up in response to pain, making it harder for the therapist to reach deeper muscles.
Several mechanisms for deep massage’s natural stress-relieving effects include its ability to dilate blood vessels and also lower activity of the limbic system (including the hypothalamus), which is responsible for autonomic nervous system regulation and cortisol secretion. Massage has been shown to improve relaxation by boosting activity of the parasympathetic nervous system, as measured by heart rate, blood pressure and heart rate variability. (8, 9)

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When you think of a massage, you probably think of soothing music, a gentle brush of hands softly kneading the stress from your shoulders, maybe even of a loved one offering to rub your back after a long day at work. While some massages can be soothing, and rely on gentle touches to work out a client’s stress or anxiety, there are other massages that have a little more grit to them. For example, the Deep Tissue massage, which is very similar in style to the Swedish massage, utilizes some of the same techniques as its much gentler cousin; Deep Tissue massages, however, are designed to focus on the deeper layers of muscle tissues and fascia, the protective layer that surrounds muscles and joints. Working out these harder to reach muscles will require more pressure, making the Deep Tissue massage slightly uncomfortable, gritty and highly effective.
Reflexology is an alternative therapeutic treatment based on the idea that areas of the feet, hands, and ears are connected to other areas of the body. According to reflexology, pressure applied to the right reflex points can correct problems with correlating body parts, organs and ones. For instance, a point on the arch of the foot may correspond with liver function. When pressure is applied to the reflex point on the foot, it will improve the liver functioning.

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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.

Swedish massage is rooted in Western practices of anatomy and physiology. To perform this type of massage, licensed therapists apply an arsenal of pressure styles that include stroking, kneading, striking, rubbing, and vibrations. Using massage oil to help their strokes glide, they focus the pressure along the muscles that run the length of the body.


Reflexology is an extremely effective form of massage, relating to the 'reflex points' on the sole of the foot. These points correspond to the organs and systems in the body, and are linked to those organs through 'energy channels', 'zones' or 'meridians'. When illness or imbalance occurs, the corresponding 'energy channels' become blocked. Reflexology Massage aims to remove these blocks, thus allowing the energy to flow freely again.
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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A form of massage therapy based on the assertion that there are 7000 to 72,000 nerve endings in the feet for all organs and body regions, and stimulation of these endings can be used to treat a wide variety ailments or disorders. Reflexology consists of manual stimulation with the thumbs and fingers of cutaneo-organ reflex points on the feet, as well as on the ears and hands. Reflexologists believe that the body is divided into 10 distinct energy zones or channels that extend from the head to the feet, and that foot massage increases the flow of healing energy through any or all of these channels; this energy may be blocked by lumps of crystalline material which reflexologists claim to be able to identify during therapy.
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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