In the beginning...
Reflexology is one of the oldest forms of bodywork still practiced. In the 1930-50s, what we now call Reflexology was adapted from an Eastern (Egypt, China, India) modality to something more in line with the Western way of thinking. Like many other modalities of the time, therapists were taught to use a lot of pressure and the techniques were often painful.
What we have learned
In the last few decades we've learned a lot about the way that the brain processes pain and now know that creating pain may actually be counterproductive or harmful to the sensitive nerve endings (7200 on each foot). Reflexology given without pain has many positive benefits including: normalizing blood pressure, energizing the immune system, improving circulation, and calming the nervous system.
Reflex points are located in the neurolymphatic area of the foot or hand (just under the top layers of skin). Using modern techniques your therapist will modulate from light to medium pressure depending upon the area of the foot he or she is working on. More dense areas like the heel require more pressure and places like the toes and top of the foot less.
Reflexology charts map the areas of the food or hand that correlate with other parts of the body including our brain, ears, eyes, organs, spine, arms, legs and so on.
Pain or no pain?
Since the focus of Reflexology is to normalize the reflex points, when a Reflexology session is given without pain, the brain is able to process the input provided by the Reflexologist in a clear concise manner. If pain receptors become triggered during a session the focus of the session becomes less productive as the brain switches its focus from positive information to guarding against more pain. When treatment is given without pain ti becomes therapeutic, yields more permanent positive results and can be used safely for most individuals.
How is Reflexology different from massage?
Reflexology techniques are focused stimulation of reflex points. Proper stimulation of a reflex point requires a more precise touch, usually using one or two fingers.
Massage techniques generally involve multiple strokes using the palm of the hand combined with thumb pressure for tense areas or trigger points. Foot massage is helpful for conditions like tired or sore feet. Massage may not affect specific reflexes like Reflexology. For individuals who like deep tissue massage or require a bit of pain to be satisfied, a foot massage will allow them to dictate the type of pressure they like.
About Kim Krost
Kim is a Licensed Massage Therapist and instructor. Reflexology has been a part of her healing practice with clients since 1998. She is the owner of the Integrative Healing Institute®, a progressive center for holistic health and well being in San Antonio, TX. She is co-creator and instructor of Natural Reflex Therapy®. Instructor License MI2270