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However, since having the feet or hands rubbed is an enjoyable and relaxing experience for most people, there is little doubt that hand and foot reflexology can promote stress relief and a sense of well being in much the same way as any other form of massage. This therapy may be an especially useful complementary treatment for neuropathy of the legs, feet and toes. It can also be useful for sore hands and feet after a workout, running or taking a long walk.
Emmanuelle is a certified reflexologist, and a member of the Reflexology Association of America (RAA). She has practiced reflexology for five years, including three years in Paris. She has studied anatomy, physiology and reflexology, and have been certified in two schools: Action Reflexo Formation (www.action-reflexo.com) with a Traditional Chinese Medicine approach focused on the systemic relation between organs, and is also certified in Reflex Therapy Total Faure Alderson, Ingham Method, focused on the cranial-sacral balance. She participates in post-graduate trainings to enhance her practice. She practices reflexology with specific processes of manual pressure on feet areas. These areas include 7,200 nervous points located on your feet. The pressure points activate the general nervous network of your body connected through these points and areas. The process will stimulate healing and have a balancing effect on the systems, including the digestive system, hormonal system, cardio-vascular system, and lymphatic system. Reflexology can address many imbalances, like sleeping problems, stress, puberty, menopause, weight and digestive problems, and recovery after surgery. In addition to a deep functional relaxation and release of the tensions, the process will promote long-term health.
The proper design, control, and intervention protocols of research on reflexology remain debatable. The use of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) is the golden standard in assessing the efficacy of complementary therapies such as reflexology.34 Verhoef et al. have described the challenges when researching complementary therapies: standardization of regimented treatment that limit the individualization of treatment; client's focus on health with restricted roles for disease treatment; ethical issues involving the recruitment and randomization due to participants pre-conceived belief on reflexology; practicality of applying sham reflexology; interference of psychological influence on rapport between patient-provider.35
Typically, sports massage therapists hold a certification and maintain licensure. A good option is to become board certified through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) and have an active membership with an association, like AMTA, to keep up to date with industry trends. Exact requirements depend upon the state in which the sports massage therapist practices.
Sheets and wrappings of connective tissue called fascia are considered an exciting frontier in massage therapy. Supposedly fascia can get tight and needs to be “released.” However, key examples of research either fail to support fascial therapy or actually undermine it — for instance, fascia is too tough to actually change. Fascia enthusiasm seems to be a fad. For more information, see Does Fascia Matter? A detailed critical analysis of the clinical relevance of fascia science and fascia properties. BACK TO TEXT
Swedish massage is done with the person covered by a sheet, where each part of the body to be worked on is exposed in turn and then re-covered. The massage practitioners use kneading, stroking, friction, tapping and even shaking motions. Oil is used to reduce or eliminate friction and to facilitate making long, smooth, kneading stokes over the tissue and muscles of the body.
Inflammation caused by chronic stress and muscle tension can lead to worsened overall health, longer recovery time, reduced immune function and cardiovascular problems, such as high blood pressure. Studies have found that massage therapy can help lower cortisol levels and even boost production of the hormone called oxytocin, which relaxes the body and has soothing effects. (7) Oxytocin is the primary hormone responsible for sustaining social bonds in humans and increasing motivation for cooperative behaviors, which is why it’s often called the “cuddle hormone” and known to be released during hugs, birth, social bonding and from touch.
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The underlying theory behind reflexology is that there are certain points or "reflex areas" on the feet and hands that are connected energetically to specific organs and body parts through energy channels in the body. By applying pressure to reflex areas, a reflexologist is said to remove energy blockages and promote health in the related body area.
Pre-event and post-event massage therapies are tailored for distinct purposes. Pre-event treatment is used as a supplement to an athlete’s warm-up to enhance circulation and reduce excess muscle and mental tension prior to competition. It is tailored to the needs of the athlete and his/her event and can be relaxing or stimulating as appropriate. Post-event massage, on the other hand, is geared towards reducing the muscle spasms and metabolic build-up that occur with rigorous exercise. Various sports massage techniques enhance the body’s own recovery process improving the athlete’s ability to return to training and competition, and reducing the risk of injury.
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Completely new to massage? Book your first appointment either well before a race—at least a few weeks out—or wait until the day after. “Just like you wouldn’t test out new socks or shoes on day of race, you shouldn’t experiment with any pre-race bodywork,” says Denunzio. Those who are familiar with massage can benefit from a pre-race rubdown in the seven to two-day window prior to an event. Getting treatment less than 48-hours prior puts all runners—even those who are massage veterans—at risk of race day soreness.
Many training programs are now available throughout the world that require a minimum of 500 hours of basic massage therapy training, in addition to continuing education credits that can require up to another 400–500 hours. (19) Always make sure you’re “in good hands” by first checking that a therapist has proper qualifications and experience, specifically asking about training in NMT, trigger point therapy, sports massage, pain management, myofascial release and orthopedic massage.
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The Swedish body massage has become the most common massage practice in the West, and the one that’s associated with that quintessential massage blissfulness. That’s because of the soothing strokes and gentle kneading, which are meant to relax, not stimulate, the body. And yet studies have shown, Swedish massage reduces stress, promotes health, and prevents injuries. At most spas, Swedish massage is the most popular treatment, and it’s for good reason. It helps jangled nerves and release neck knots without being too demanding of the spa-goer.
My massage was awesome! Definitely a deep tissue massage. Throughout the 60 minutes, I was asked if the pressure was just right which I appreciated very much. The atmosphere was very quiet as it should be, and I was very relaxed. They incorporated hot stones as part of the deep tissue massage which was my favorite part of it all. After the 60 minutes were up, we were offered water or hot tea to take with us as we left.
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