Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Heated Argument on the Difference Between Reflexology and Foot Massagee

I started out this morning with the following statement on my Facebook page:

Foot massage works warm + fuzzy part of the nervous system while Reflexology works precise pinpoint locator parts + targets specfic stresses.

What follows was an exchange about whether or not it really makes a difference on how you describe your work. Here are some highlights:

That's why we should incorporate both in a session. The foot massage relaxes the foot to allow for better results with the reflexology points.

i can only comment on the chinese foot massage..... which are very painful... ! fixed my jetlag, thou ! but not warm and fuzzy !

I am not so sure if using the word massage is just right. Only, because of the struggle of Reflexology to be set alone, as a separate modality,away from Massage standards. Why can it not be, invigorating tissue, by application towel friction.

In NJ, we have alot of massage people--doing Reflexology Therapy sessions--Trained in Massage, IS not trained in Reflexology.
I specifically say-- Reflexology Therapy Session, not a foot massage.

I agree with Sue it should be part of...I dont nknow about you all, but I do a little of it all on the foot.

I like that clarification.

Desserts and not massage. As my teacher would say. Desserts are reflexology techeques used to warm up and loosen the feet. Also a great way to finish off the session.

Plus, because we as reflexologiests are trying to seperate ourselves from the massage industry. We should never use "massage" in the same articals as reflexology.

My comment: I do desserts and not any massaging. I see desserts as movement techniques and not really massage. My messengers are pressure stretch and movement. I never really just rub the foot or hands. I am trying to target specific stressors in the feet and hands

do you know.... i sit here in China, and read all your comments.... and it's interesting to see you all focus on reflexology and as Rich, says... seperate yourselves from massage.... have you asked your clients, what they prefer? how they feel duriong a foot massage and then, reflexology.. they are after all, the main focus in a treatment...

My comment: The Chinese use foot massage and reflxology interchangibly. It is definitely not warm and fuzzy. I offer Reflexology if they want foot massage they can go elsewhere. I am admitted purist. I am targeting the proprioceptors. I know that foot massage causes relaxation response but I am targeting specific stressors.

A lot of the desserts are fundamental massage movements designed to warm up the foot prior to reflex work and hooking. We do reflexology but there is no shame in admitting some of the relaxation moves or desserts have their foundation in massage. Sue

I agree with Sue. (the above comment). 

My comment: Here us the rub Sue. (excuse the pun) I could not disagree with you more. Where are these technique documented as massage techniques and not unique to reflexology? We documented on purpose the traditional techniques of reflexology on purpose to perserve them in 1980.
Let me explain why that matters. It is illegal in several US states for us to practice Reflexology without a massage license because they believe we are "fundamentally" a massage. And we were put out on business for five years because of this opinion. This is despite the fact that the local massge school taught and therefore profited from our book.

For me reflexology is a massage technique for treating the health of the body by reflex points of the feet and hands.

Reflexology and massages can mean major dollars for the people doing reflexology, If I had to take a 10,000.oo course in massage-just to use reflexology- it would defeat the purpose for those interested in reflexology only. Therefore I have to go with Kevin and use desserts. I am zeroing in on the reflexes-not the muscles.

Sorry, but I don't think you can separate muscles from a reflexology session. We'll have to agree to disagree on this one.

Yes Kevin, I agree. The Reflexology community has come to terms, with what language is being used specific within the professional expression jargon, that describes one technique, or another. Naturally, because if someone has had formal massage training, than this person will incorporate, the hand action they were trained to perform. It is build inbehaviour and only natural, to do so. And again, you are right to be a fundamentalist concerning the profoundness of the implications, that come along with the protection of our stance, that was so hard fought, and is still ongoing in various States, but slowely being over come. To not be under the domain, of any Massage regulatory status. I agree with Rich Graham,to call warm-ups Desserts, and by all means keep that word out of all documentations,etc. Because if you do, one could be called upon to provide Massage services without a license.

Now I can understand why. My priority is always to work the reflexes required, but treatment goes beyound that.

Thank you, Kevin, for your input. I was on the Massage Therapy Government Relations Committee in Montana that was writing the Massage Therapy Licensing Act. It was passed into law in May 2009. I am both a reflexologist and a massage therapist, which are two different and seperate modalities, and I love them both. I served on the committee from 2006 until the bill was passed into law in 2009. As a member of the committee, I was the representative for reflexolgy, and was able to get an exemption for reflexology from Massage Thereapy licensure in Montana. Yay!! Let's hear it for Reflexology!!

I agree with Sue that it is impossible to to seperate muscles from Reflexology...however, you can seperate reflex points from a foot massage. And I do see Kevins point..I trained as a Reflexologist long before I went to massage therapy school...but was unable to do anyting with my reflexology training until I became a Massage Therapist. It's under an umbrella that has no idea what it actually is. Some schools include it in their curriculum and some don't..mine only had 50 hours for Reflexology and 700 for Massage.....not much to be able to call your self a Reflexologist. On the other hand they are our clients...our intention is to help them be well and to bring them back. A little massage after, in my opinion, does no harm. I see it as helping to further disburse any toxins that might have been worked loose and helps to relax the client in case the session was a bit uncomfortable. I can see where a true purist would disagree with that....but as a Massage Therapist, I also know the benefit of a really good foot massage. It's all beneficial no matter which side you are on.

My comment: Sorry Sue. With all due respect My intent is not the muscles but the proprioceptive reflexes. Yes there are proprioceptors in muscles but the larger concentrations are deep in the foot, in the tendons and joints. I do not massage the muscles of the feet. I am applying pressure techniques to the reflexes.
There are also acupuncture points in the 
foot. Am I also practicing acupuncture? Sorry but after being put out of business by this very issue I am a bit touchy about the definition. We have defined ourselves very carefully and consistently in every book, article and class we have given separately from massage. They both have there benefits but they both have their distinctions.

 My comment: 
I guess I am a bit of a fanatic on this point. I have the greatest respect for Sue. I guess I just want what is best for reflexology. I have seen reflexology go through through hell just to survive. I have seen people go to jail for practicing reflexology. At one time we were told that we may not be able to practice in all 50 states. So I guess times have changed and I need to take a chill pill.

I didn't correct any spelling and I didn't edit any comments. It is live and it is raw and I would like to hear your opinion. 

BTW This debate was across several borders including France, China, Ireland, Canada and the US. 


Gaetane Reimer said...

I honestly never desired to learn massage. I live in a small town that has 8 massage therapists and I am the only certified Reflexologist. My desire was to see people receive healing in their bodies, not just relaxation. I wanted to see positive changes. If I wanted to give a foot massage, I would have studied massage therapy. Some clients come here with the desire to have a foot massage and expect me to throw in a massage. I tell them that this is not a foot massage. Once I explain what Reflexology is truly about, I would say that 95% of clients rebook. They can get a good foot massage from a Massage therapist but they won't be getting a REAL Reflexology treatment. I have noticed that one can get tired of continually promoting the difference. Some people don't want to feel the pain, they just want to feel good. And yes, definitely a treatment can feel good but we have to keep pushing the truth about Reflexology. If we allow it to turn into a foot massage, then many will not want to deal with some of the pain associated and just want the warm fuzzies. I am here to help people heal find health and healing. Our associations are only as strong as we are in our beliefs. As Reflexologists we must unite to promote the truth otherwise our profession will become obliterated and known as just another part of massage therapy.

Gaetane Reimer said...

I must also say that I have great respect for massage therapy and those that so heartily give of themselves to help people in this modality. I regularly see a Massage Therapist and would not want to be without this wonderful form of treatment. Just like Massage therapy, we owe Reflexology the respect it deserves because it can stand on its own for what it can do in the human body.

Wendy Decker said...

What a great discussion! In Maine, you can't say you do massage unless you are a licensed massage therapist. Now, can reflexologists say they do a few relaxing massage techniques in your reflexology session? We seem to have a great relationship with the massage field here. SO, it probably wouldn't matter here. That said, while I am also a licensed massage therapist, I still do not say foot massage, when doing reflexology. As reflexologists, we do warm-up techniques. The reason for this is to warm up the foot and get it ready for deeper work. It is necessary to loosen the foot, and start the relaxation process, to be able to go deeper. And all deeper work needs a finish. We can call them desserts or finish techniques. The focus is not to work the muscles. It is to effect the nervous system. Big difference.