What is the difference between reflexology and a foot massage?


Most people understand that reflexology is a lot more in depth than a massage. But what makes reflexology different from a foot massage?

Therapeutic Reflexology is both a science and an art. Although it may be classified as a form of massage, it goes much deeper than that. The principles and technique are a lot different.

During therapeutic reflexology treatments the therapist works on specific reflexes on the feet that correspond to different organs, nerves and energy pathways in the body.

The masseurs doing the foot massage use various techniques to massage the foot, but do not work specific reflexes.

Foot masseurs use techniques such as ‘kneading’, ‘stroking’ and ‘milking’ to stimulate the soft tissue. They work from the outside in.

Reflexologists work from the inside out because they stimulate the nervous system. They use the ‘crawling’ technique or firm pressure and rotations to stimulate the reflexes.

 Reflexologists study the reflexes mapped out on the feet, which corresponding to the organs of the body. They also study the physical manifestations on the feet such as bunions, calluses, nail disorders, cracked skin, swelling, temperature changes, etc. This helps them to identify the organ or parts of the body that are stressed, imbalanced or not working effectively.

The purpose of a foot massage is solely for relaxation and de-stressing. Although reflexology can be very relaxing too, the intention of reflexology is to stimulate the body’s self-healing mechanisms, and for balancing and healing to take place.

 In South Africa Reflexologists are registered with the AHPCSA (Allied Health Professions Council of South Africa) and called Therapeutic Reflexologists. Therapeutic Reflexology is part of the official alternative / complementary healing modalities in South Africa. The AHPCSA gives guidelines to the health professionals for the purpose of protection towards the patients.To practise reflexology without a registration number from AHPCSA is illegal.

To further enhance the distinction between reflexology and foot massage there are a number of rules and regulations that reflexology therapists must adhere to in regard to how they ‘advertise’ and where they have their practise rooms. Allied Health Professionals also need to attain a certain amount of CPD (Continued professional development) points in order to remain registered with the council and keep up to date in thefield of health.

 The Scope of practise for therapeutic reflexology consists of:

  • Verbal and physical assessment of the patient’s state of health

  • The application of therapeutic reflexology treatments by use of hands or other suitable tools

  • The use of Vacuflex concepts machines

  • Relaxation techniques

  • Offer lifestyle and nutritional advise

  • The use of other modalities to enhance the reflexology treatment, after appropriate training.

  • Attend to patients outside of the practise

  • Education on optimal health

  • Delivery of emergency CPR

  • Inter-disciplinary consultation, liaison and/or referral


http://www.sareflexology.org.za/scope-of-practice/                                                 http://www.ahpcsa.co.za


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