Reflexology 101: The Healing Touch

NEWS now offers reflexology! We’re excited to add this new service to our menu to better assist our clients on their journey towards natural healing. Since there’s a lot of confusion and misinformation about reflexology out there, read on to find out what this procedure is all about and how it can help you.

What is Reflexology?

Reflexology is a system of holistic therapy where practitioners apply pressure to specific regions of hands and feet. The practitioner is often a registered massage therapist or another type of physical therapist. Sometimes, they are simply known as “reflexologists.” These foot regions correspond to different organs and systems within the body. When reflexology is done correctly, it may help alleviate pain and other types of ailments in other areas of the body.

The roots of reflexology go back to ancient Egypt and China, although William H. Fitzgerald, an ear, nose, and throat doctor, introduced the concept of “zone therapy” in 1915. American physiotherapist Eunice Ingram continued to develop the zone theory in the 1930’s, and this is the modern reflexology treatment that’s popular today.

The underlying theory behind reflexology is that there are “reflex areas” on the feet and hands that are connected energetically to specific organs and body parts.

When we manipulate these energy channels in the body, we stimulate nerve endings and encourage whole body healing. The reflexologist applies pressure to these reflex areas, thus removing these “energy blockages” in areas of the body that cause pain and discomfort.

Manual stimulation of these reflex areas on the foot can promote digestive healing, hormonal balancing, and more. Some examples of reflex areas and their corresponding body parts include the tips of the toes and the head, the ball of the foot and the heart/chest, and the arch of the foot with the heart, liver, and kidneys. The heel corresponds to the low back and intestines.

According to reflexologists, pressure on the reflex points also helps to balance the nervous system and stimulates the release of endorphins. It is these endorphins that help to reduce pain and stress.

What Can I Expect During a Reflexology Session?

A typical treatment is 30 to 60 minutes long. Every treatment begins with a health history intake and a consultation about your health and lifestyle. Our reflexologist Erin is also an R.M.T. and can combine reflexology treatments with deep tissue massage. Erin is a certified reflexologist with over 100 hours of clinical education.

First, Erin will assess your feet and stimulate various pressure points, focussing on areas of tenderness or tension. Then she will identify the corresponding region of the body that is out of balance before she begins massaging. After this, she will start to apply finger or thumb pressure to the foot using specialized reflexology techniques.

What Conditions Can I Treat With Reflexology?

Reflexology alleviates numerous types of chronic health conditions:

  • Stress and stress-related conditions
  • Migraines/tension headaches
  • Insomnia and anxiety
  • Digestive disorders
  • Arthritis
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Sports injuries
  • Menstrual disorders (PMS, cramping)
  • Back pain

We encourage you to call our office if you have any further questions about this treatment. For pricing, head to our list of massage services.

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Massage Therapy or Manual Osteopathy?

Deciding Which Treatment Is Right For You

It’s a common occurrence at our clinic: a customer calls asking whether they should make an appointment to see a massage therapist or an osteopath. The truth is, both registered massage therapy and manual osteopathy are highly effective treatments. Still, it’s important to choose the one that’s right for you.

You may want to ask yourself a few questions before calling to make your appointment. For example, do you have any injuries in your past? Is your pain located in one specific area, or does it radiate to other parts of the body? Does it hurt to apply pressure? Do you have a history of arthritis, inflammation, or any other chronic pain conditions? 

If you think your pain is more than muscular, you may want to see one of our osteopaths.  An osteopath ensures that the body’s joints are properly aligned, restoring the range of motion in the area of concern. Osteopaths check to see that the skeletal system is not exerting any strain on nerves or muscle tissue by being out of alignment.

Massage therapy session

On the other hand, if you are experiencing pain in one specific area, then you will want to consider seeing a massage therapist. Like manual osteopaths, massage therapists are trained to manipulate the soft tissues of the body, including muscles, connective tissues, tendons, ligaments and joints. R.M.T.s are also trained to do health intakes to help determine the root cause of your discomfort.

Can I Do Massage Therapy and Manual Osteopathy Together?

Yes! The advantage of alternative therapies is that they work best holistically, in combination with one another. In most cases, patients who pursue both massage therapy and manual osteopathy are the patients who have the best chance of healing themselves!

To recap, here’s how to tell the difference between massage therapy and manual osteopathy: 

1) Massage therapists primarily help with occupational stresses, muscular over-use and many chronic pain conditions.

2) Manual osteopaths primarily address structural alignment using gentle manipulations which rebalance the body. This includes muscles, bones, joints, fascia and the soft tissues.

We advise you to visit the Ontario Association of Osteopathic Manual Practitioners and the Registered Massage Therapists’ Association of Ontario websites for more information. If you would like to learn more about the individual therapists we have on staff at NEWS, click here.

We are open 7 days a week for your convenience. As always, we’ll be happy to answer any of your questions via phone or email!