When it comes to getting the most out of your trip to a resort or day spa, booking the right types of massage go a long way in making sure you return from your vacation relaxed, healthy, and in less pain than when you arrived.
Reflexology is an often misunderstood and overlooked spa treatment where the therapist works on reflex points on your feet, hands, and ears that are thought to relate to specific organs and glands in the body.
By stimulating these points with finger pressure, massage therapists claim to be able to promote health in those organs and glands via the body's energetic pathways.
When done by a skilled practitioner, reflexology is a deeply relaxing treatment with benefits that can be felt throughout the body. The therapist will use various techniques that include holds, finger pressure, kneading, rotation, and rubbing, so be prepared for a very intimate experience if you book one of these treatments at your spa or resort.
More Than a Foot Massage: The Full-Body Effect
The best therapists practicing reflexology also include hands and feet as part of the treatment, and you should feel an effect on the entire body once you're done with the experience. If the therapist is less skilled or inadequately trained, you'll just feel like you've had a very long foot massage.
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.
Eunice Ingham, known as the "pioneer of modern reflexology," built upon this work by painstakingly mapping the connections between the feet and all the corresponding organs and glands of the body. Through this, Ingham devised a system of techniques that would enable the practitioner to contact the reflexes in the most effective and economical ways.
This system is known as the “Original Ingham Method” and though this method was later refined, her legacy is still the foundation of modern reflexology.
The Benefits of Reflexology
Booking an appointment with a massage therapist who specializes in reflexology can be highly beneficial, especially for those suffering from pains associated with organ troubles.
The basis for reflexology, zonal therapy, is based on the theory that the body is divided into ten zones running longitudinally from head to toe, with five on each side of the body. Practitioners believe that pressure on reflex points on the foot or hand will affect body organs in the same zone.
In recent years, reflexology practitioners have begun to incorporate the acupressure techniques of Traditional Chinese Medicine (T.C.M.) into their work. Although reflexology is based on the theory of "zones" instead of T.C.M.'s theory of "meridians" or energy pathways, both treatments are based on the principle that working on specific points can bring about a therapeutic effect in other parts of the body.
Reflexology is a relatively quick massage treatment that focuses only on the hands, feet, ears, and head. This makes it especially great for those who want to keep their clothes on during a massage and for those who don't have a lot of time to clean up after the treatment.
How to Book a Reflexology Appointment
Most spas and resorts in the United States should have at least one massage therapist with some experience in reflexology, but this is not always the case. As a result, you should ask what kind of specific training or certification your therapist has in reflexology before you book.
Any massage therapist or esthetician, who are both licensed to work on the body, can legally give you "reflexology" even though they've had minimal training. It's better to get reflexology from someone who has been through a specific reflexology training and certification program, as this person is much more likely to understand how to address your specific concern (such as an inflamed kidney).
A reflexology appointment shouldn't take more than 30 minutes from the time you see your therapist, so you should be able to book a quick treatment no matter how long you have at the spa or resort.
However, since not all massage therapists are trained in this specific treatment, be sure to book your appointment early so that you get the most qualified practitioner for your treatment.