When asked the question “What is Reflexology” the answer you get is a foot massage. Let’s straighten this out once and for all, Reflexology Is Not a Massage. They are related to each other but the history, techniques, application, theory and training are very different. The only thing that is similar is it is a therapy that requires a therapist to touch the body using their hands.
No one really knows how massage originated, or where it originated. Massage as a therapy has evolved out of one of our most instinctive desires, to touch and be touched. As a studied therapy, however, it is said to have been born in China coming from the same tradition as acupuncture and Taoism.
Reflexology originates from Egypt 2330 BC. It is the oldest of all the touch therapies. There is a painting in the tombs of the pharaohs showing how Reflexology was used as a diagnostic tool. The practice of Reflexology known as an healing art spread to China, India, Japan and Europe that later evolved into Acupuncture, Ayurveda medicine, Shiatsu and Massage.
When you look at the differences in the techniques you will find massage uses Tapotement (tapping); Petrissage (kneading); Effleurage (stroking); Friction (compression) and Vibration (shaking). In Reflexology the techniques are Alternating pressure; Thumb walking; Finger walking; Knuckle walking; Pressure Point Focus; and Rotation on Reflex Point.
The basic theory between massage and Reflexology are different. Massage relates to the premise that stroking restores imbalance within the soft tissue compared to nerve ending in the feet, hands and ears correspond and have a connection to all systems, organs and cells in the body.
It is a known fact that the application of massage covers the whole body and Reflexology is applied only to the feet, hands and ears. With massage, except chair massage the client undresses and with Reflexology only shoes and footwear is removed.
There is also a difference in training and education for massage and Reflexology. For massage it is 500 to 1000 hours that often includes a minimum of 10 to 20 hours of Introduction to Reflexology as an elective course, in addition to a minimum of 48 required hours of continuing education training every 4 years. Reflexology training is 200 to 300 classroom hours with a minimum of,12 hours continuing education training every 2 years
Reflexology and massage do have a few things in common. There are lots of books, schools, associations and certification for both therapies. Massage requires a license with some states including Reflexology under the massage license; while other states may require a Reflexology license and some states do not. The states that have separate license requirements see and recognize that Reflexology is not a massage.
Modern day medicine requires research. Massage has limited documented research compared to Reflexology that has an extensive base of scientific research studies conducted in Australia, South Africa, China, Scandinavian Countries, Cuba, Europe, Canada and The United States.
A major difference that is often over looked when talking about Reflexology and massage is the definition. Massage is the therapeutic practice of scientific manipulation of the soft tissues, muscles and limbs to ease tension and reduce pain. Reflexology is a therapeutic method of relieving pain and improving circulation by stimulating nerve reflex pressure points on the feet and hands.
Now that you have been given a brief introduction on the differences between Reflexology and Massage….. Stop saying “Reflexology Massage” because each modality has its own specific training program with a curriculum. Massage works the Muscular system and Reflexology works with the Nervous System.
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