Foot Reflexology: Massage Treatment for Feet
Balancing the Body from the Bottom Up
Welcome to the fascinating and age-old science of foot massage called reflexology. This 4,000 to 5,000-year-old foot therapy produces a healing reaction in the body’s organs when corresponding areas of the foot are massaged.
When the body is compromised or imbalanced, a patient will experience weakness or become sensitive when a reflexologist targets certain areas of the foot. By focusing on the meridians of the foot (a mapped-out group of pathways located on the bottom of the foot tracing the flow of energy), and administering pressure and massage, a person may realize relief from such health problems as stomach, sinus and circulation issues.
By examining the twelve meridians which are each associated with individual organs and treating the weaknesses and imbalances revealed, illness and disease can be effectively treated. By receiving treatment from a licensed reflexologist, there is hope for persons suffering from various health problems.
DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT THROUGH REFLEXOLOGY
In the Beginning
Unfortunately, the person seeking reflexology is usually suffering from one or more ailments or symptoms at the time help is being sought. The good news is that the composition of your feet allows a trained and experienced reflexologist to work and massage the entire foot. The ultimate goal: to regain free-flowing channels of blood flow and energy that restore organ function and good health. There is definitely a relationship between specific ailments and pinpointing the appropriate area of the foot to be treated so, your correct diagnosis will be substantiated by the results of your therapy.
Step #1: Finding the right reflexologist
This could be as easy as talking to a friend, co-worker or nearby medical professional like a dentist, pharmacist or nurse. Word of mouth is still reliable and often referred to as the best form of advertising. Before the internet was available, 5-star ratings came from satisfied customers. If this trek does not work for you, definitely go online and start searching. The reflexologist you’re looking for will have the schooling, training, certification and experience to work with you while addressing your health issues. Because the internet is such a great place to start; we’ve listed the following organizations to help in your search:
- American Reflexology Certification Board
- State Level Reflexology Associations In USA
- Reflexology Association of America
- Professional Reflexology Associations
- American Academy of Reflexology
- International Reflexology Association
- National Reflexology Association
Step #2: How to prepare for your first visit
When you’re satisfied with your search results prepare yourself for your session. Do not hesitate to ask questions while familiarizing yourself with the procedure. If possible, talk with your reflexologist on the phone or in person to insure optimum results and always discuss payment options in advance of the first visit. The following examples should help you formulate your question list:
- Are meals prohibited before or after treatment?
- Can I receive treatment if I’m pregnant?
- What liquids work best before and after reflexology?
- Are there discounts for cash payment or additional fees for credit card use?
- Can I expect results immediately?
- Are there age limits for beginning treatment?
Recommendations: Learn as much about reflexology as you can by researching the practice and procedures. Your practitioner may even have a chart for you to look at or hold so that you’re able to identify certain meridians and sensitive areas more effectively. Kneading the bottom of the foot, toe pulling and heel tracing are an integral part of reflexology along with pressing deeply into the arches. Ask if these are massages you can do at home to help speed up your healing.
Reaping the Benefits of Reflexology Therapy
Obtain Maximum Results for Your Body
Knowing exactly what reflexology is and why it has been around for thousands of years has everything to do with accessing the entire body through the feet. This is why meridians (zones) and reflex areas are extensively mapped to reflect the body’s image on the hands and feet. Virtually, every part of the human body except hair and bone is supposedly treatable through reflexology. It is a form of natural, or, what is commonly referred to as alternative medicine excluding the use of oils, lotions or drugs of any kind. Read on to learn how and why reflexology is still being sought, out as an effective and healing experience.
Step #1: Identify the Symptoms
The reflexologist who is well versed in treating various human ills and conditions will be no stranger to headaches, sinus, stomach and even diabetes related problems. Because diabetes restricts blood flow, many foot related maladies can be treated including tingling, ulcerations, calluses and numbness. When sensitivity and/or tenderness are detected during stimulation it is usually an indication of physical weakness or imbalance.
- The step to take is to apply pressure in the indicated meridian of your foot, along with nerve ending manipulation repeatedly.
- On occasion the hands and/or ears may also receive pressure point manipulation for relaxation purposes and improve the health of the patient.
Step #2: Unblock the Energy
The Reflexology may help clear any blocked channels of energy by increasing blood flow and impulses to the nerves. When stress and tension is eliminated and the body’s energy has been released, it’s time to prepare yourself for some great side-affects:
- Toxins are eliminated when the body is cleansed
- There is a boost to the immune system
- The patient’s circulation is increased
- Healing and better overall health may be realized
- Energy is balanced
Recommendations: Every pressure point is related to a specific meridian of the foot. This reminds us that reflexology revolves around the theory that every organ and basically every part of the human body is connected in some way to the foot. All the systems of the human body work synergistically together and they all need energy to keep working. Be aware of even the most minuscule changes in your health and know that when health problems arise, early and effectively treatment will always do more good than harm.
What are the Main Reflexology Points and Major Treatment Areas
How to Read the Map of the Foot
Almost all the areas of the body have a corresponding reflexology pressure point on the foot. Although not every reflexologist agrees on every location, they do agree on the 5 basic areas for applying pressure to the sole of the foot. The following will help you figure out what zones belong to what areas of the body and the organs involved.
Step #1: Use Common Sense
Remember that reflexology is not scientifically proven, it is a holistic practice. The following facts are approximations made by practicing reflexologists.
- The left foot corresponds to the organs located on the left side of the body, and vice versa. There are basically five reflexology areas located on the sole of each individual foot. Your “cranial and neck” area will include all five toes. In this area we find pressure points relating to each foot where the toes connect to the rest of the foot. This area is considered the most important reflexology zone as it is the pathway for communication between the brain and the nerves, muscles, and bone.
- The “chest area zone” is mapped around the ball area of the foot. It is considered darker in color as compared to the middle. Pressure applied here will correspond with and affect the thoracic or chest area and shoulders.
- The widest part of your foot is where the “waist line” is. This area correlates with the liver, stomach and intestines, etc. and is normally lighter in color.
- Located at the heel is the pelvic area, typically darker in color, similar to the chest area. The buttocks and legs correspond to this area.
Step #2: Putting Common Sense to Use
- Locate the mapped area corresponding to the problem area (in this case sinus).
- Squeeze and release repeatedly on each toe for 15-20 seconds. Rotate every toe at the joint and repeat.
- Reflexology to treat shoulder ache: Locate the specific part of your “spine” that is level with the shoulders. This area is where the ball of the foot ends up to the base of the big toe. Use your thumbs to “walk” on this part of the spine, massaging for several minutes.
- With your thumbs, massage the entire area corresponding with your shoulder (i.e., right shoulder, right foot).
Recommendations: Reflexology practitioners do not all agree on the precise location of every reflex point, however, there is some consensus when it comes to major pressure points. Continual research is required to reveal all the facts, but consistent scientific documentation points to links between internal organs and specific locations on the skin. When you’re in a position to document your health problems and treatments, do so! Over time chronic pain and non-responsive treatments will force you to investigate and discuss other methods for relief.
Reflexology vs Popular Massage Techniques
Compare and Choose the Massage that Suits You Best
We have learned that reflexology is the one massage therapy claiming to access and treat most of the body and internal organs through the foot. There are however, many massage techniques that boast similar results. You’ve read about them, heard about them, now-let’s take a look and learn exactly who to make an appointment with and the types of techniques available:
Step #1: Be True to Yourself-Do the Groundwork
Only you know what your goals are. Whether it is pain relief, treatment for medical or mental illness or recent trauma, you need to take responsibility for choosing the best therapist for your needs. Of course, pure pleasure ranks way up there so takes the necessary steps to get the most satisfaction for your buck.
Step #2: Be Informed
It is highly unlikely that anyone will have the time to discuss each and every type of massage therapy in depth with you. Armed with the basic knowledge of the various types of massage and the techniques used in administering the therapy will make your search so much easier. Read through the following types of massage and their descriptions so you will have a better chance in determining which will work best for you.
- Swedish: This method of massage is the most popular technique which incorporates a variety of different strokes. It was developed by Swedish Professor Ling. Benefits of the Swedish massage include a feeling of well-being while reducing emotional and physical stress. The five basic stroke techniques consist of: effleurage (smooth, long strokes), petrissage (rolling, lifting, kneading), friction (small movements in a circular pattern), tapotement (percussion), and vibration (to rock and shake).
- Aromatherapy massage: This is a Swedish massage with the addition of scented plant oils (aka essential oils) mixed with the massage oil. These oils are extracted from various types of flowers and other parts of plants. The properties of these flowers and plants are pleasing to the senses and are even touted as having a healing influence. Examples of this can be experienced with the addition of rose or lavender which are used to promote relaxation. Your massage therapist may choose to blend their own specific oils in order to treat specific types of problems, or, administer pre blended essential oils in treatment. Benefits of aromatherapy include headache relief, sleep disorders, digestive problems, various types of back pain and premenstrual pain. Patients are energized, uplifted and relaxed.
- Neuromuscular: Designed and administered to addressed the nerves as well as the muscles, the neuromuscular massage is also known as “trigger point therapy”. The optimum results will be realized in the restoration and balance of the autonomic nervous system which controls smooth muscles like the heart. It also governs the function of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system.
- The Hot Stone Massage: This technique incorporates the application of warm heated stones on specific points on your body. The warm volcanic rock known as basalt may be held by the massage therapist during treatment. The application of the warmed stones is intended to be very relaxing and therapeutic loosening the tight, painful muscles. Your therapist will then be able to reach and treat each critical point of muscle tension quickly.
- Deep Tissue Massage: A developed technique for targeting adhesions also known as muscle knots. A deep tissue massage is also very effective in isolating and working on painful areas in the deeper layers of connective tissue and muscle. This massage incorporates slow, strokes and/or friction following the natural muscle grain. Your therapist may use this style of massage to address long term muscle tightness and pain. If you are suffering from repetitive muscle strain such as tennis elbow, trauma or postural problems, even carpal tunnel syndrome and osteoarthritis, deep tissue massage is probably worth investigating.
- Shiatsu Massage: This technique demonstrates Japanese bodywork by localizing pressure via the massage therapist’s fingers, hands and/or elbows. The pressure is then applied in a rhythmic sequence along the body. Every pressure point is firmly held from two to eight seconds. Originally founded by the Chinese, the Shiatsu massage is applied to improve both energy flow and balance in the body. Neither oil nor lotion are applied to the skin. Those persons suffering with arthritis, sleep disorders, neck and back pain, inflammation of the sciatic and other nerves, and sinus problems may benefit from the Shiatsu massage. Any person receiving a Shiatsu massage may realize increased energy, faster recovery from injuries and improved digestion.
- Thai Massage: This powerful combination of assisted yoga, slow and passive stretching, and firm muscle pressing massage is considered to be more energizing than other massage techniques. It is slightly similar to yoga without the work, as your therapist stretches and moves you in various postures while sitting or lying on a mat. The mission of Thai massage is to align all the energies in your body. Thai massage therapists rhythmically compress the body’s energy lines reducing stress while improving flexibility and range of motion. Geared to treat spastic muscles, back pain, balance problems and migraine symptoms.
- Pregnancy Massage: The prenatal massage is customized for the expectant mother to be. This technique is often sought to alleviate stress and promote relaxation. As many pregnant women seek relief from lower back pain and swollen ankles especially after four months, prenatal massage is considered to be relatively safe, drug-free alternative for pain and discomfort. There are massage therapists who have special training and certification in prenatal massage. They will correctly position and support the woman’s body, modify certain techniques, and refrain from treating certain areas during pregnancy. Ask about specially designed massage tables that will allow you to rest safely and comfortably during your massage. Knowledge and experience is key when seeking your therapist, so ask questions and verify any licenses and/or certifications.
- Sports Massage: This technique demonstrates a faster massage motion and muscle compression. It may also incorporate pressure point therapy and manual joint manipulation. The sports massage is designed to address sports-related injuries while alleviating muscle tension, post-event pain and inflammation. It will loosen muscles in pre-event situations for both the professional and weekend athlete. Sports massage will aid in releasing lactic acid in overstressed muscles as well as relief from muscular tension by increasing blood and oxygen flow back to the muscles. When sports massage is part of an athlete’s routine it may even help prevent traumas from injuries occurring in the future.
There’s definitely much to consider when researching the various massage methods and techniques available. While you are deciding which massage therapy is right for you, remember to document any and all pertinent information related to your health. An experienced and thorough therapist will be able to serve you much more efficiently if they’re informed of any medical conditions. High blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and/or varicose veins could affect your treatment especially if you’re interested in the hot stone massage. If you are taking prescription medication please discuss massage therapy with both your doctor and massage therapist; there are meds like blood thinners that could result in bruising when certain massage techniques are applied. Before any aromatherapy massage remember that your skin may react to certain oils or plant mixtures-something to mention ahead of time in the event you have seasonal allergies or food sensitivities.
Conclusion: Having survived as a means to ending the pain, improving overall health and balancing the energy in the body massage therapy is certainly worth looking into. If there is a way to feel better without taking drugs, I’m all for it. Finally, massage therapy is supposed to help you feel better. If you’re working with someone that is hurting you, you don’t have to endure or work through the pain, tell them to lessen the severity or pressure in their technique. Fortunately, there are many thousands of helping hands out there just waiting to help you!