Reflexology, also known as zone therapy, is an alternative medicine involving application of pressure to the feet and hands with specific thumb, finger, and hand techniques without the use of oil or lotion. It is based on a pseudoscientific system of zones and reflex areas that purportedly reflect an image of the body on the feet and hands, with the premise that such work effects a physical change to the body.
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Earliest discovery of reflexology was found in Egypt based on the observation of daily life activities including the medical practices.1 Other studies have reported that reflexology emerges from China for the last 5000 years ago but there is no documentation found, so with the finding of hieroglyphic mural in the pyramid located in Saggara, reflexology is considered as a part of Egyptian culture from 2330 BC.3 At the late of 14th century, reflexology was already applied throughout the Europe with another name; zone therapy.9 Father of modern reflexology, Dr. William Fitzgerald (1872–1942) has discovered that zone therapy has been used by Aboriginal American.9 Jenny Wallace from North American Indians tribes used pressure at the feet as one of the sources of healing process.9 Fitzgerald study has brought reflexology practice to be widely used in the United States.3 The discovery of zone therapy was developed from the finding of pressure applied on many parts of body such as hands, nose, ears, and many more can relieve pain sensation.10 Dr. Joe Shelby Riley from Washington has conducted many studies of therapy including reflexology and has used this therapy for many years.9 Eunice Ingham (1879–1974) has worked together with Dr. Riley in 1930's as the therapist and work greatly to help people understand reflexology.8 She shared the technique of reflexology with others by writing many books such as “Stories the Feet Can Tell, Stories the Feet Have Told, and Stories the Feet Are Telling”.9 Reflexology has greater recognition after the emergence of another eminent woman in this therapy world with her book; “Helping Yourself with Foot Reflexology” which reached more than 500,000 copies sold.9
The Swedish massage can also be used as therapy for people who suffer from any type of debilitating joint disorder that causes them pain. This benefit of the Swedish massage works to increase the elasticity in the tissues, flexibility, and to reduce the paint that they feel. After the Swedish massage many of these people will find that they are able to use their joints more than before and with little to no pain.
The purpose of the practice of massage is to enhance the general health and well-being of the recipient. ‘Massage’ is used as a general term to describe manual manipulation of the muscles and joints to help relieve pain and stress in the body. This generalized term can be broken down into many subcategories such as: deep tissue, trigger point, prenatal/pregnancy massage, hot stone, sports massage, Thai massage, myofascial release, lymphatic drainage, crainiosacral, lomilomi, shiatsu, reflexology, Hellerwork, looyen work, polarity therapy, tui na, and connective tissue massage, just to name a few.
Deep tissue massage is best suited for people who engage in highly physical activities, such as running, or those who have an injury or chronic pain. If you have a low pain threshold or are looking for relief of tense muscles, Swedish massage is gentler and may be a better option. Speak to your doctor before trying deep tissue massage if you have an underlying medical condition.
A good massage therapist will never force pressure into the muscle. They will continue to apply pressure until the muscle pushes back against them. The muscle will then slowly begin to release and allow the therapist to move along it. The pressure used should not be painful, but should walk a fine line between pleasurable release of tension and a pain-blocking response from the body (tensing up).
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Harriet Hall, MD also known as The SkepDoc, is a retired family physician who writes about pseudoscience and questionable medical practices. She received her BA and MD from the University of Washington, did her internship in the Air Force (the second female ever to do so), and was the first female graduate of the Air Force family practice residency at Eglin Air Force Base. During a long career as an Air Force physician, she held various positions from flight surgeon to DBMS (Director of Base Medical Services) and did everything from delivering babies to taking the controls of a B-52. She retired with the rank of Colonel. In 2008 she published her memoirs, Women Aren't Supposed to Fly.