Massage Therapy School and the Value of Reflexology Massage


Reflexology Foot Massage
Applying targeted pressure to points on the feet, hands, or ears may help relieve pain and improve circulation.

Massage therapists use a variety of massage and trigger point techniques, including reflexology, to treat their clients.

Massage therapy has become one of the fastest growing careers, with quality massage therapy schools turning out many qualified graduates every year. In addition to the standard deep tissue and specialized massage techniques that are learned, many successful massage therapy schools are including course material on reflexology and trigger point targeting, arming their graduates with yet another way to relieve pain and improve the health of future clients.

What is Reflexology?

Reflexology is a very ancient practice, though it is difficult to trace its actual point of origin. The earliest recording of possible reflexology dates to around 2300 BC in Ancient Egypt pictographs, and reflexology “texts” may be found in India and China from around 1,000 BC. The first European reflexology traces its origins to Marco polo, who translated a Chinese massage book into Italian in the 1300s.

Reflexology uses applied pressure to specific points and areas of the feet, hands, and ears. These points and areas correspond to different organs of the body, as well as body systems, and reflexologists believe that applying pressure to these areas can have a positive effect on the health of the corresponding organs and systems, as well as improving the person’s overall health.

Reflexology has been increasing in popularity, both as a complement to other medical treatments and as a measure to help prevent illnesses and conditions.

Reflexology Points and Areas

Reflexologists apply pressure to points on the bottom, sides, and top of the hands and feet, as well as on the inside and outside of the ear. There is no major consensus on what these pressure points are, though some scientific data has linked specific points to specific organs and systems. For example, a specific point on the arch of the foot, corresponding to the bladder, appears to have a positive effect on bladder function.

In general, the left foot pressure points effect organs and systems on the left side of the body, with the pressure points on the right foot corresponding to those on the right side. The liver is on the right side, so its pressure point would be located on the right foot.

Differences Between Reflexology and Massage Therapy

One common misconception about reflexology is that it is the same as massage therapy, but this is inaccurate, although the two practices may be used together. The techniques, however, are very different. While reflexology focuses on applying pressure to specific points on the feet, hands, and ears only, massage therapy applies pressure in a variety of ways to the soft tissues of the entire body, with the goal of relaxing muscles. Simply put, massage therapy works from the outside of the body, releasing tension by targeting muscle groups, while reflexology works from the inside out, targeting the nerves to release tension in a specific part of the body.

Another major difference between the two is that clients receiving reflexology treatment remain fully clothed, while massage therapy requires clients to undress before a session.

Using Reflexology in Massage Therapy

Understanding the body’s trigger points, as well as how to target and effectively treat them, is a vital part of any massage therapy education. Graduates of a quality massage therapy school, such as Southern California Institute of Health (SOCHi) have a solid basis in massage techniques, including the vagaries of trigger point and pressure point massage. Using that knowledge of reflexology, a massage therapist can more effectively target specific areas of the body, addressing both muscle- and nerve-based causes of pain and discomfort in the body. For example, knowing how to target the areas of the foot that affect the ankle, leg and back can help a massage therapist release nerve tension and make the full muscle massage more effective in its release of tension and promotion of healing.

Patient at the physiotherapy doing physical exercises

Physical therapy and sports rehab make use of reflexology and massage techniques to treat their patients’ injuries.

Though different in their essentials, reflexology and massage therapy work together well to release the tensions in the body that cause pain, discomfort and other health problems. Understanding how these individual techniques work, and how they may be combined, allows massage therapists to provide more effective treatments for their clients.

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