The Facts Beneath the Feet

Tony Hanley, Massage Supervisor - 25th July 2012

Most people love having their feet massaged. In fact, for most of my clients it is their favorite area. Time and time again, I hear people comment that the most relaxing part of the massage is the feet. While it feels good, massaging the feet also promotes overall health to the muscles and body systems. This type of massage is called reflexology, which utilizes specific techniques on the feet.

What makes reflexology different than your average massage? In typical body work, the therapist focuses on the muscles and their attachment points. The intention of the therapist is to relax the muscles in the area they are working. This type of work can vary in applied pressure and uses different techniques, depending upon the therapist’s experience. Reflexology examines the foot from a different perspective and requires specific training, which is not common among all therapists.

The Chinese are often created as being the father of reflexology. When you go to a Chinese trained reflexologist, their focus is to remove any blockage to your Qi. The Chinese believe that blockage in Qi flow is what creates illness and dysfunction. This work is very deep and intense and is not meant to be relaxing. Most reflexologists in the United States are not trained in this Chinese method. However, they are trained on the zone theory, which was designed by Eunice Ingham in the 1930s. This massage technique divides the foot into five zones. Each zone has an area that corresponds to different parts of the body. By working the zone, the therapist helps to promote healing and pain reduction to the corresponding body part. The therapists utilizing this methodology can often tell from the feet where dysfunction in the body exists. This work is meant to be deep, but should also still be very relaxing. During your next foot massage, ask your therapist if they are a reflexologist and experience the difference.