Reflexology is primarily used by many people as a method of eliminating pain. As an analgesic treatment, reflexology can reduce the severity of a migraine and headache, simply by relieving tension in the muscles that can often result in these conditions. A headache induced by stress can also be eliminated since stress and psychological factors often manifest in the physical symptoms of a migraine.
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Deep tissue massage is a type of massage that aims at affecting the deeper tissue structure of the muscles. It also affects the connective tissue, known as fascia. Deep tissue massage helps with both small muscle injuries as well as chronic problems. Deep tissue massage is an excellent way to deal with a whiplash or sports injury, postural misalignment, treating spasms as well as muscle tension. During a deep tissue massage the therapist concentrates on releasing specific chronic muscle tension as well as the muscular knots, or adhesions.
Reflexology is a systematic practice in which applying some pressure to any particular points on the feet and hands give impacts on the health of related parts of the body.1 Each point of the pressure acts as the sensors on the feet and hands and is links with different parts of body specifically.1 These sensors will be stimulated by applying the reflexology technique in order to improve the blood and energy circulation, give sense of relaxation, and maintain the homoeostasis.2 Reflexology session can be improved by other elements such as aromatherapy, peaceful music, and good environment settings.3 There is a term in reflexology called reflex zone therapy. Reflex zone therapy is where the body is divided into ten longitudinal zones from head to toe. In the reflex zone therapy, there are five zones on both sides of the body in which each zone diverge down the particular arm, and also continue straight down the body and down the particular leg to line up with a toe on the respective foot. Practitioners usually choose the suitable technique to be applied to the reflex zone therapy to gain optimized efficiency and impact. Reflexology is a complementary therapy instead of an alternative therapy to other treatments which patient already has based on reflexology maps.2 Complementary therapies nowadays are applied in many of palliative care or to alleviate a problem without dealing with the underlying cause in order to make patient's emotional, physiological, and spiritual health improve and increase the value of their life.4 Two methods of reflexology that have been accepted internationally are Ingham method and Rwo Shur method. The first method does not use any tools in its practice and the second method utilizes the use of tools such as a wooden stick.2 There are five theories that support how reflexology gives impacts to body health.5 First and second basic theories are related to energy. Energy theory advocates that body parts can communicate using electromagnetic fields and the communication can be blocked based on the surrounding respectively.6 Third and fourth theories indicate that energy flow can be restored and the fourth is about the pathway which is blocked can be opened.7 The last theory proposes that reflexology can break up the lactic acid crystal that usually deposited in the feet and allow energy to flow efficiently.5
In South Africa, massage is regulated, but enforcement is poor. The minimum legal requirement to be able to practice as a professional massage therapist is a 2-year diploma in Therapeutic Massage and registration with The Allied Health Professions Council of SA (AHPCSA). The 2 year qualification includes 240 credits, about 80 case studies, and about 100 hours community service.
Currently, the learning centre which provides training for reflexology is very limited. Normally anyone interested to learn reflexology will learn about reflexology through apprenticeship. Recently, Stella In, a local Malaysia training centre offers certification of training in reflexology. This institute was established by the Ministry of Tourism Malaysia as one of the centres of excellent which offers spa therapy training, specifically for Malaysian, with full job guarantee at any officially approved spa organizations. This institute offers certified qualification of national/international diploma in reflexology foot massage course. Learning about the body zones, feet reflexes, and reflexology techniques which can improve blood circulation, removal of toxins from body, and help to increase the energy level are offered in this course. The teaching techniques include theory and practical.14
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The effects and benefits of Swedish Massage have been well researched and documented with controlled studies. Research performed by the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine and International Journal of Neuroscience shows that 45-minute massage increases serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin that help to balance and elevate the mood. Serotonin and dopamine are both neurotransmitters. Lowered levels of either serotonin and dopamine have been linked with depression, anxiety and overall lethargy. Increased levels, as with massage, will bring about a feeling of emotional well-being and balance. Oxytocin, commonly referred to as the “cuddle hormone,” has been shown to release while cuddling, as well as while in massage. While it is technically a hormone, it tends to act like a neurotransmitter making a sweet little neuropeptide that makes you feel warm and soft on the inside.
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Increased blood flow. Your Swedish Massage Therapist should use effleurage – a long, stroking motion in the direction of blood flow towards the heart – in order to open up your blood vessels and increase your blood flow. Increased blood flow means that your muscles are getting more nutrients and oxygen and that your body is removing toxins more efficiently.
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Trust and pain. Bear in mind that feeling safe is critical to the experience of good pain. Tiny differences in trust and comfort can make the difference between an intense pain being good or bad. Much of the “goodness” of good pain comes from mental context, from knowing that a pain is not dangerous or pointless, that it will not increase suddenly, or anything else yucky or shocking.
International Institute of Reflexology has been conducting reflexology training and course. This institute has acceptable qualification and has been teaching for over 50 years to the highest professional standard. This institute teaches the original Ingham method and it is taught only by tutors who have approved licence from the IIR to ensure that authenticity is maintained. All the graduates have international and European recognition for their training by the addition of City and Guides Level 3.
In Malaysia, reflexology has been applied widely but without any certification and qualification from the Ministry of Health. Tighter control is needed to overcome this problem. Practitioners who conduct this therapy may not have the accurate knowledge about reflexology and may lead to any contraindication for certain conditions. The government should take serious enforcement about this practice among practitioners who are not certified. Each practitioner must have a proper training. The ministry of education could provide vocational training in the local community colleges throughout Malaysia to upgrade the skills and knowledge of reflexology practitioners.
Traditional Thai massage is a different experience if you’ve only ever had a Swedish or deep tissue massage. In Thai massage, you wear loose-fitting clothing (often provided by the massage therapist) and start by lying on a mat. Throughout the massage, the therapist moves your body into various seated and prone positions, which stretch and release your muscles and soft tissue. Although your body is moving, the therapist is doing all the work, making it feel similar to supported yoga. The massage therapist will bend, stretch, and compress and lengthen your body using their hands, forearms, elbows and even feet. Don’t be alarmed by the feet! Many studios have overhead supports that allow the practitioners to safely walk on your back, releasing tight adhesions and promoting ease. Thai massage can be both invigorating and relaxing. It is an excellent option for keeping your muscles in good health if you regularly work out, or if you want to overcome a lack of flexibility. Studies show that Thai massage can increase blood circulation, improve flexibility, reduce muscle tension and enhance mental well-being.
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In Myanmar, massage is unregulated. However, it is necessary to apply for a spa license with the government to operate a massage parlour in major cities such as Yangon. Blind and visually impaired people can become masseurs, but they are not issued licenses. There are a few professional spa training schools in Myanmar but these training centers are not accredited by the government.
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Empathy: Most people opt for massage therapy because they are in pain or because they are stressed out and need to calm down. As a massage therapist, it is imperative that you are empathetic to the needs of your clients, regardless of your day is going. If you appear or feel anxious or stressed, you are not going to be able to make your client feel calm and relaxed. Create trust with your patients by being personable and communicating effectively. Be receptive to their needs.
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In Thailand, Thai massage is officially listed as one of the branches of traditional Thai medicine, recognized and regulated by the government. It is considered to be a medical discipline in its own right and is used for the treatment of a wide variety of ailments and conditions. Massage schools, centers, therapists, and practitioners are increasingly regulated by the Ministries of Education and Public Health in Thailand.
As for the commonly held belief that extra liquids are needed post-massage: that’s a myth, explains Gammal. “Massage does not release or flush out any toxins from the body, which means it won’t dehydrate you. Massage helps with recovery from lactic acid but doesn’t get rid of lactic acid.” Post-massage, you can just resume your normal hydration habits.