Thursday, 10 December 2009

A Massage Therapist Strips

But not in the way one might think (which would be a bad thing. Really).

Today I stripped myself of reflexology. Yep, I took it off my website, including my Christmas Specials and I'm taking it off my trifold master copy and I threw away my chart the other day.

Mad, eh? Especially since I'm going to lose income from this decision.

I've been learning quite a bit these past few weeks. I mentioned the book in an earlier post and I've been doing some digging into research findings and answering some questions for myself. The end result has been that I now don't believe that reflexology works.

Something happened in my usually-vacant head. I had someone come for a session on Saturday and my "talk" was not the same. I felt like I was selling snake oil. Now, don't get me wrong. I think a lot of my clients felt something from reflexology, but it may well have been just a placebo effect or it may just have been from getting a relaxing foot massage, but I don't believe in the theory of reflexology any more - this has all come from reading and looking at research findings (plus some help from the folks on the website that I bailed from last week).

Isn't it funny how life is like a continual school?


  1. You know, I always took the Eastern modalities with a huge grain of salt. My instructor would say something like, "The Chinese have been doing this for thousands of years!" and in my head, I'd be saying, "Yeah, and they still grind up rhinoceros horn and bear's gall bladder because they think it's an aphrodisiac!" But I never said it out loud...

  2. I know what you mean. I've been in lots of classes where I've heard lots of huge claims about a lot of different things.
    I think I bought into the reflexology claims just because I wanted to, plus there was plenty of "evidence" online and other places that it worked.
    Huge grains of salt are a good thing.

  3. I've also been thinking about this while catching up on the EBR site. What I know about the reflexology studies is that they were done in the '90s when they weren't well controlled. At the time studies also showed MT wasn't effective. I haven't found any recent studies on reflexology that would lead me to believe I should toss it as a modality; same with cranial sacral work. If we learn and practise these modalities with a grain of salt and use them when they are beneficial for the client we are doing our ethical best. For example, I integrate reflexology into a session if the clients neck still needs attention after working it directly for some time. Same with CS; if a client comes in inflamed and can't take efflerage or pettrisage a subtle modality works better. I had a good instructor with CS and she never taught it from an energy stand point but as a subtle movement therapy.

    I also think it important we consider those guys agendas, backgrounds, and experiences before throwing out the baby with the bath water. Just my two cents.

  4. Robin,
    It's hard to "unintegrate it" - I find myself still doing it on the sciatic and back reflex points if someone has back pain, but I can't "sell" it or talk about it anymore. It's funny how my hands still want to do it though, but the client doesn't know what I'm doing! What's up with that? My "head" can't let me sell it though.

    One of my regulars said that she was very surprised I did reflexology (this was after I took the poster down), which I took as a sign.
    Maybe one day new research will prove that the theory works - I'll bring it back in then.
    I didn't know that about all MT research in he 90's showing MT didn't work. Hmmmmm.......

  5. I don't advertise reflexology or CS either; but if I know it will be helpful I integrate it into the session. I also occasionally suggest CS to a client if I think it will be better for them than a MT session and feel they are open to it.

    Some MT studies in the 90's did show results were effective but the majority did not. AND most of the effective studies were done by Tiffany Fields; can't have one principle investigator doing all the research as it makes it less valid.

  6. This is really interesting. As we've been having guest speakers in class the last few weeks introducing us to things like CS, Lymphatic Drainage and Jin Shin Jyutsu I've found myself questioning the presentations. I watch the reaction of my fellow students and have been trying to gauge whether they believe this one or that one really works. Sometimes I find that the presenter gets so lost in the "tale" of the modality it's hard to tell where the truth lies.

  7. I would encourage critical thinking WeeSally, while staying open and aware. The modalities you mentioned are better taken later in your MT career after you've had time to practise the basics. I apoligize if this seems intrusive; not my intent.