If you are dealing with a serious injury, and don’t have a diagnosis, definitely see a sports doctor. “Massage therapists do not diagnose,” says Denunzio. “It’s not part of our discipline.” And while a therapist can identify and attempt to alleviate any tightness and inflammation in the body, if a problem area doesn’t feel significantly better three days post-massage, you should likely consult a sports doctor then, as well. Once a diagnosis is given, your massage therapist can work with that information and use massage as a helpful tool in recovery.
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Many people confuse reflexology with massage, Reiki, or acupuncture, but there are essential differences between these therapies. Massage therapists manipulate larger areas of soft tissue in the body while reflexologists apply pressure to specific points on the feet, hands, and ears. Unlike either massage or reflexology, Reiki does not involve any physical manipulation or pressure, but instead uses light touch to work with the subtle vibrational field thought to surround the body. Finally, while acupuncture and acupressure, like reflexology, use reflex points on the body to influence other parts of the body, the points are not the same and acupuncture uses points over the entire body.
There is evidence that people were practicing some form of hand and foot therapy 4,000 years ago in China and Egypt, but the modern rediscovery of some kind of systematized foot therapy is attributed to William Fitzgerald, a doctor who called it "Zone Therapy." His ideas came to the attention of the public in a 1915 article, “To Stop That Toothache, Squeeze Your Toe,” published in Everybody’s Magazine.
The recognition of reflexology as a specific type of treatment began with Zone Theory, in which the body is divided into 10 vertical zones. Each zone corresponds to fingers and toes all the way up to the top of the head. For example, if you are standing up with your hands on your thighs (palms facing down) the thumbs and great toe would be zone 1. On either side of the body, the index finger and second toe would be zone 2, etc.
Reflexology increases the flow of energy, increases the circulation and stimulates the digestive system. It is so effective at this that most people feel a need to pee after a session, and are nearly always thirsty, as toxins are eliminated from the body. It is also recommended that you do not drink alcohol in the 24 hours before or after a session, as the effects of the alcohol can be multiplied. It is also inadvisable to have reflexology if you have a pacemaker fitted, or if you have diabetes.