Foot Massage vs Reflexology

December 9, 2013

What is the difference between a foot massage and reflexology?

First and foremost, in a foot massage, the foot is viewed simply as a foot. Reflexology sees the foot as a mini map of the whole body as well as a just a foot. These special reflex areas on the foot also help set the reflexologist’s intentions to addressing the needs of the whole body.

Secondly, massage techniques tend to use a flat hand or all fingers together and motions tend to be smooth and flowing.  Reflexology pressure is most often applied with only the reflexologists thumbs, or finger tips.  Sometimes reflex points are accessed with a wooden stick or stone.

The third difference is that reflexology uses a special thumb technique called “thumbwalking” where pressure is applied to a reflex area in an on-off-on-off pulsing rhythm. This type of alternation nerve stimulation is said to sooth the nervous system and reduce pain.

Lastly, massage usually uses lotion or oils to make the surface of the skin slick for gliding movements. Reflexology does not require any oils to be used.  I only use a tiny bit of lotion at the beginning of a session when I do a few flowing moves to asses range of motion and areas of tension in the foot as a whole.  As needed, I may use castor oil to loosen a stubborn muscle tightness or Topricin to easy an achy arch.

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