Reflexology – and how it differs from Massage
I like massage, but I LOVE REFLEXOLOGY!
I love to give it, I love to teach it,
and I love to get it!
Reflexology is more than a good foot rub: it de-stresses the body and remotely balances its systems and energy – making you feel like you again.
It’s done anywhere, accessible to anyone. You can even learn to do it to yourself!
After a reflexology session by Nikki, I feel unburdened and at ease with my body and mind and the world! Madhu
What is Reflexology?
Reflexology is a science that defines reflex points on the feet and hands that correspond to all glands, organs and other systems of the body (including the muscular/skeletal system). Reflexologists undergo specific training to know exactly what to do when a client comes in not only to de-stress but also to address specific anatomical or physiological problems. We apply pressure to reflex points with specific thumb, finger, or hand techniques in a clothes-on session. These concepts distinguishes it from foot massage.
There is some debate whether there is a practice called Ear Reflexology. The Chinese mapped out the whole ear with acupuncture or acupressure points that correspond to the whole body. Working pressure points in the ears can also be quite relaxing and balancing, as with the feet and hands. My training considered this separate from modern reflexology and called it auricular therapy. My experience is the result is similar.
After a reflexology session with Nikki, I feel like my whole system has been recharged and relaxed at the same time. It’s truly a wellness experience not to be missed! SLC, holistic wellness consultant
Reflexology came from Zone Theory
Reflexologists incorporate Zone Theory in the way they address the body … and I do in almost every self-care body class I teach! Zone Theory was developed in US medical schools by Dr. William Fitzgerald, and ear-nose-throat surgeon. It divides the body into 10 vertical zones, up from each of the toes or fingers, and contends that all organs and tissues in those zones can affect anything else in those zones.
What does Reflexology do?
Reflexology primarily reduces stress and tension, which doctor’s agree is the source of about 75% of our body’s problems. When a reflexologist stimulates specific reflex points on the feet or hands, we balance nerve and blood supply to the area related to that reflex (brain, heart, neck, hips, etc.).
Just imagine the following: if you release tension in the spinal muscles, you allow for greater flow in the nervous system. This then balances the systems associated with those nerves reflexes being worked (muscular, digestive, etc.). If you relax the muscles of the chest and diaphragm, you have a greater capacity to enhance oxygen in the blood. Oxygen feeds all our cells! As well, by relaxing tension, our bodies start to move back toward better posture.
What are reflexes?
Reflexes have been described as both nerve endings and energy connections, and in my experience, it might be both. As well, I once read that Ida Rolf proposed once that reflex endings were actually fascial endings. This would make sense with Zone Theory. However, I don’t think anyone knows yet for sure – all they know is this work is easily provable empirically: by observation or experience, rather than by theory or logic.
I don’t think I’ve ever had a real reflexology session before Nikki. It’s certainly more than a foot massage. Nikki uses her skill and knowledge to target what’s ailing me beyond general stress and tension. I always feel relaxed and refreshed after a session. RT, 56 working mother of two
Difference between massage and reflexology
Many people ask me what the difference is between massage and reflexology. Massage releases tissue and increases lymph and blood flow by direct, hands-on work on muscles or pressure point release. This stimulates circulation to the area being worked on. Reflexology balances the systems of the body by work that is remote from those areas. Balancing means it produces an increase when needed, or a decrease when required.
The best explanation I can think of to show the difference is approaching the body after a car accident. While one typically doesn’t physically adjust or massage the injured area after the accident (because the area is inflamed and inflammation needs to decrease first), one can do reflexology on the reflexes related to the injured areas. Why? Because the location is remote to the injury and the work doesn’t increase circulation directly – it balances the body however is needed.
Training is another difference between reflexologists and massage therapists. Reflexology in massage school is typically just a weekend course. Certified reflexologist are required to take at least three full weekends of class study, digest books and videos; give, document, and understand at least 100 case studies; all of which culminates in a reflexology exam on the concepts and how address conditions someone might walk in with. It takes at least 6 months for someone on a focused fast track to become a reflexologist, whereas most take a year or more. To remain a certified reflexologist, you must retrain every two years.
Don’t get me wrong – I do like massage and get it myself, even foot massages (I’m a sucker for anything foot related). However, I LOVE reflexology. It leaves me balanced and energized in a different way, and generally relaxed and energized instead of relaxed and tired. It works body, mind, and spirit – and alters your energy field.
Reflexology and Chiropractic Care
A conventional chiropractor who knows this would hopefully recommend a reflexology session, so that then the necessary manipulation is done as soon as possible. An energy work chiropractor, however, might be an exception to this example.
I actually worked in a chiropractor’s office once in a car accident case. The patient was very overweight, including in the neck, and the chiropractor had not had success adjusting her neck for months. When she called me in, I worked on the woman’s cervical spine reflexes, and in 30 seconds the doctor was able to realign the neck.
What might I experience during or after a reflexology session?
Like a massage, this work can be deep or light.
The session can feel completely relaxing, or sometimes you can experience pain in a reflex. If the pain is too sharp as I work on it, I often do energy work to relax the area. This allows me let’s later go deeper, usually with no pain. Working through the pain in a tolerable way is part of balancing the body.
After a reflexology session, 99% of all clients tell me they experience deep mental and physical relaxation as well as emotional relief (not release). This means they are dropped into their parasympathetic nervous system and their chakras are balanced. On occasion people feel truly energized, but most often people describe their mental state as both calm but awake; their physical state as comfortable and relaxed; and their emotional state as smoothed out, feeling like normal triggers would not affect them. Some even say their senses are more alert (a common comment is their vision is more crisp and colors are brighter).
Reflexology won’t make a condition worse, although it can wake up the nervous system and can cause a Herxheimer reaction from detoxing on the road to health. The nervous system could “wakeup,” meaning that the physical feelings of an old injury could possibly resurface on its way out (meaning as the body lets go of the injury). This is not a regular occurrence, however, and the feeling typically moves through the body in hours, or a day or two. It’s important to know that the body unwinding and releasing is a normal process of letting go of tension, toxins, etc.
For people who experience this or fear this possibility, I often recommend a reflexology session be paired with a 30-minute IonCleanse® detox foot bath. It helps draw out what can cause inflammation or pain, and post-reflexology session, a client dumps about 30% more than with just an IonCleanse session alone. As well, one could take an epsom salt bath, perhaps even mixed 50-50 with baking soda.
Combine Reflexology with an IonCleanse® Foot Bath
Reflexology begins the detox process as tension releases and organs and systems come to balance. The IonCleans draws toxins out the feet into a foot bath, complementing reflexology. Typically, this foot bath removes about 30% more toxins after a reflexology session (or a massage or physical activity). Generally you leave feeling lighter in your body, with the same calm of reflexology.
Add reflexology to a Thai Yoga session (aka Thai massage)
Start your Thai Yoga session with a 1/2 hour of reflexology, allowing the body to deeply relax before it goes on a journey of passive yoga done to the body & acupressure. This is a true treat.
Come train in reflexology!
I love offering reflexology training. In fact, in all my Yamuna Body Rolling or Simple Body classes, I’m always training students in the concept of reflexology.
Understanding what you can do for yourself, or your family members and friends is not only a great wellness tool, but it builds personal connections in this electronics age. People need touch – and with reflexology, you don’t have to take off anything but your socks (you can even do it socks on if someone won’t take them off!). And there are some trainings I think everyone should have – reflexology is very beneficial for strokes and seizures, particularly if you address them right away!
Reflexology training is a hands on experience where you’re learning techniques and how you’d want to work with someone for specific issues. Even if you’re not coming to me for specific reflexology training, you’ll most likely find yourself getting a little reflexology training in one of my other modalities – it tends to apply everywhere!
My Foot Fitness Trainings include Yamuna, Reflexology, and Zone Theory
Some people think of me as the foot lady.
I started my energy work through the feet; added reflexology to my practice, then studied and incorporated Yamuna Foot Fitness into my work.
I truly believe in the feet as the foundation of the house we live in (our body), a key to our alignment, our most natural access to the energy of the Earth, and a great pathway to free our bodies.