Adding reflexology to your massage sessions can elevate an enjoyable massage session to one of deep relaxation. Reflexology is widely used not only because it’s enjoyable, but because it’s associated with specific relaxation and health outcomes. If you’re incorporating reflexology into your massage sessions, you can focus on specific areas or concentrate on the entire foot for general well-being.
What is reflexology?
Reflexology is a type of foot massage focusing on individual reflex points in the feet to create healing outcomes for corresponding organs and areas in the body. Different massage techniques are used the same as in any other type of massage; during a reflexology session, the massage therapist might knead the ball of the foot, pull on the toes, and apply pressure on to the arch of the foot.
Foot massage dates back thousands years to ancient Egypt and China, and it was rediscovered or introduced in modern times by European and North American doctors in the 19th and early 20th centuries as Zone Therapy. In its modern form, zone therapy can be used to treat anything from headaches and sinus problems to digestive issues.
Reflexologists believe it’s a sign of imbalance or issues if the patient experiences sensitivity or tenderness in the foot when the corresponding reflex point is pressed. By massaging these nerve endings, reflexology clears blocked energy away to support better blood flow and nutrient delivery to these areas of the body. Reflexology can also focus on the hands and ears.
Benefits of reflexology
Foot massages feel wonderful for stressed-out individuals, and they can deliver additional health benefits if a qualified reflexologist is involved. Reflexologists believe general health and wellbeing starts at the feet and moves up the body. For example, reflexology could be a natural way to enjoy better sleep. Diabetics who have poor circulation in their feet could find reflexology helpful in boosting blood flow to the area.
A reflexology session might have a positive impact on colds and minor ailments, enhance energy levels, and help with relaxation and stress. Your reflexology clients could enjoy better lymph circulation,reduce injury levels, and find relief from chronic conditions such as skin allergies, liver dysfunction, headaches, and IBS.
Reflexology could also be linked to enhanced toxin elimination, immune systems, circulation, and general healing and wellbeing. Reduced anxiety, better clarity, and relief for sore and tired muscles are other possible outcomes.
Incorporating reflexology into massage sessions
Reflexology can be incorporated into a massage session or be offered as a standalone service for clients. Reflexology sessions should start with a patient health history check to assess whether this type of massage is appropriate. The initial discussion will also help the reflexologist work out if there are any key areas to work on.
If so, the reflexologist will work on the corresponding points on the patient’s feet, or even hands and ears. If there are no specific problem areas in the body, the reflexologist might concentrate on the entire foot to strengthen the whole body.
Experience reflexologists will prepare new patients by letting them know what reflexology feels like. Tingling, lightness, warmth, and a sense of energy moving through the body are common. Patients can experience perspiration in the hands or feet, feeling cold, coughing, thirst, muscle or organ relaxation, and even crying or muscle contractions. Talking about these before the session helps prepare the patient for these effects.
The reflexologist can start with loosening up the ligaments and nerves around the ankle area to prepare the foot for direct pressure later. After that, you can apply some lotion to the feet and start relaxing the feet one at a time with basic pressing and squeezing, light slapping, or gentle kneading.
Start at the heel area and move upwards towards the arch of the foot, the ball, and the toes. Movements such as twisting the foot gently back and forth so the small toe moves towards the sole and then back towards the top of the foot can also help loosen up the ligaments and the nerves in the foot. Reflexologists will also incorporate massage movements such as folding toes back and forth, pinching the toes and twisting them, and curling the toes to warm up.
An experienced massage therapist will avoid touching or brushing the feet lightly during the reflexology session, since this can be ticklish for the patient and lead to discomfort. Firm pressing or grasping are the best ways to handle the feet during reflexology.
As for a regular body massage, the patient is clothed and either seated or lying down. It can be a good idea to have the patient avoid eating within one hour prior to the session, and pregnant patients might want to avoid reflexology altogether.
As the massage therapist, you should advise patients to drink plenty of water afterwards to flush out toxins and the lactic acid build up that happens during massages. Patients with specific foot problems such as injuries, clots, or varicose veins should seek professional advice before receiving reflexology.
Utilising the benefits of reflexology of your clients
Reflexology has been around for thousands of years, and it makes an excellent complement to a standard body massage. Massage therapists can use it to help clients achieve deeper relaxation, stress alleviation, and possibly healing for specific conditions or areas of the body.