As anyone who uses self massage to sooth sore muscles, provide stress relief and ease tension knows, there’s a certain healing power in touch and physically working on the body in order to sleep better, reduce headaches, run farther or boost energy.
A great complement to massage is reflexology. These two practices are often confused for each other, but massage focuses on the muscular system while reflexology pays more attention to the nervous system. Both massage and reflexology can be used jointly to provide relief.
What is reflexology?
Reflexology is an ancient healing practice that involves applying pressure to certain spots on the feet, hands and ears to help alleviate stress and pain.
The idea behind reflexology is that these different points on these body parts correspond to systems and organs in the body, and applying pressure positively affects the person’s nervous system and internal organs to improve their overall health.
There is a chart that practitioners use that guides them to the different areas where pressure should be applied. If someone is having a particular issue with their stomach, they can look at the reflexology chart to determine where on the body they need to apply pressure, or they can work multiple spots for general wellness.
Some examples of pressure spots include:
On the feet:
- Tips of toes: brain
- Top arch in the center of right foot: liver
- Back of calf on both legs: sciatic nerve
On the hands:
- Middle of fingers near second joint on both hands: neck
- Center of thumb pad on both hands: pituitary gland
- Center of palm on right hand: liver
On the ears:
- Bottom of both earlobes: tonsils
- Middle of both earlobes: eyes
Reflexology and athletes
Endurance athletes understand that taking care of their body is of the utmost importance because their body is the tool they need to complete their sport. If the body is not in proper working order, it becomes increasingly more challenging to perform at higher standards.
In addition to using deep tissue and relaxation massage to provide feet, neck and back pain relief, athletes can incorporate reflexology into their routines as well.
Here are some benefits of reflexology for athletes:
Reflexology helps stimulate circulation throughout the body, including to injured areas, helping the body’s natural ability to heal itself.
Remove lactic acid:
Research has shown that reflexology helps to remove lactic acid buildup in muscles, which can lead to sore, tight muscles. Marathon runners and cyclists who need leg tightness relieved after a race may find reflexology helpful.
Relaxation and sleep:
Without a good night’s sleep, the body can’t function properly throughout the day. Both massage and reflexology work to relieve stress to help the body and mind relax so you can sleep more soundly each night. Being calmer also helps athletes focus on the task at hand, such as completing so many miles in a day’s session.
As endurance athletes know, experiencing pain happens sometimes, but it can be problematic if it slows down training. Plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis and other chronic pain conditions can flare up from time to time, so it’s important that athletes find remedies to overcome these issues and be able to move forward. Like massage, reflexology can help target trouble areas and provide relief.