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What is the difference between massage and reflexology?


Sometimes I get the question ‘What is the difference between a reflexology treatment and a regular massage? ” and “Is a foot reflex massage not the same as a foot massage?”. Then there’s also much talk about reflexology and foot reflexology and is it the same or is there a difference? To answer those questions lets first have a look at the areas being treated on the body with massage and reflexology.
massage or voetreflexologie

The massage area in a (foot) reflexology treatment and a massage

A massage therapist can treat your entire body. There are massage therapists that also provide a massage in combination with a reflexology massage.
A reflexologist mainly massages the feet and lower legs but can also treat your arms, hands, ears and/or give you a facial reflexology massage depending on the ailments. There are also reflexologists who only treat either the face (facial reflexology), ears (ear reflexology) or hands (hand reflexology).
Reflexologists, reflexology therapist, reflexology practitioner, facial reflexologist, foot reflexologist are all names of professionals and the various forms of reflexology.

A massage or foot reflexology massage?

(Foot) Massage
The purpose of a (foot) massage to relax someone and relieve stress.

(Foot) Reflexology
A (foot) reflexology treatment has the same goal as a (foot) massage, to relax and relieve stress.
Reflexology is a focused treatment on parts of the feet or hands (zones) which create relaxation occuring in the corresponding organs. Additionally a (foot) reflexology massage activates the self-healing ability of the body by releasing blockages so that the energy can flow again. In this way symptoms such as constipation, migraine, insomnia and many more can be relieved. Reflexology has also been scientifically proven to work.

Foot reflexology also works according to foot reflexology maps and there are many of them

Design van Chris Stormer https://alwaysb.com/
Source unknown


Foot reflexology techniques versus massage techniques

(Foot) Massage
A (foot) massage consists of soothing movements of the hands such as effleurage, stroking, kneading and rotating to create relaxation of the muscles, tendons and joints. Pain is hardly ever experienced but rather that an area is rigid and tight.

Effleurage (stroking) – source: www.miamor.ua

(Foot) Reflexology
A massage remains on the surface and reflexology goes more into depth. (Foot) reflexology uses various techniques to treat specific zones, such as; the ‘thumbwalking’ movement (the thumb acts like a caterpillar walking along the skin, feeling the texture under the skin), knuckle pressure, pressing and trembling movements, but also relaxing techniques such as stroking and kneading. A (foot) reflexology treatment is often a combination of reflexology and foot massage.

Knuckle technique – source: bodyworkerseminars.com
Thumb walking – source: httpss://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3hD-PlagkE

A reflexologist assumes that a zone of the foot under the little toe, corresponds with your shoulder and a part of the ball of your foot corresponds with your lungs. In short: the reflex zones correspond with organs in your body.
A reflexology treatment is often relaxing but some areas can also feel like a refreshing sense of pain, a feeling that many experience as a ‘nice and welldoing’ feeling of pain. This feeling disappears when the zone is cleared.

The masseur or reflexologist

In the Netherlands a reflexologist has followed a reflexology training and often combines them with a Bachelor degree in Basic Medical Knowledge. In this way their treatments get (partially) refunded by the health insurance.
A regular massage does not get reimbursed by the health insurance in the Netherlands. However there are masseurs who have additional training courses so that the treatment could potentially be reimbursed.