How does one know they’re getting a reflexology session and not just a foot massage?

In some cases it can be quite obvious. Even if you’ve never experienced a professional reflexology session before, if you’re getting the same three techniques for the entirety of your treatment, chances are you’re just getting a foot rub. And although there is some overlap with massage, a reflexology session typically includes a fair amount of detailed work aimed at targeting the ‘reflexes’ on the feet. This is usually done with a technique called ‘thumb walking.’ Reflexologists use their thumbs to outline and work along specific areas of the body represented on the feet via their reflexes.

One of the first things you should inquire about is the therapist’s qualifications. Are they ARCB certified? The American Reflexology Certification Board (ARCB) is the national governing board that oversees the certification of professional reflexologists. Although massage therapists are qualified to do reflexology, the training in most massage therapy programs is limited in scope and practice. The ARCB requires an additional 200 hours of training in order to become a nationally certified reflexologist.

Since one of the aims in a reflexology session is to target specific areas of the body via their reflex zones, your therapist should speak with you before your session to determine which areas are in need of attention. Just about every part of the foot corresponds to a specific organ, gland or body part. And in most cases the reflex zone is very much a circumscribed area on the foot. For example, if you’re having digestive issues and need specific work along your descending colon reflex, the corresponding reflex is about 1” – 1.5” on lateral aspect along the bottom of your left foot. Or if you’re having sinus congestion and could benefit from having those reflexes worked on, the toes should be given particular attention during the course of your treatment.

Of course it always helps to have a rudimentary understanding of the reflexes and where they are located on the feet. But even if you don’t know or are uncertain, ask your therapist. A knowledgeable therapist won’t hesitate to answer your questions and help provide you with a safe and effective reflexology treatment.


joe-azevedo2Joe Azevedo is a New York State/NCBTMB Licensed Massage Therapist, ARCB Certified Reflexologist, and an Advanced Reiki Practitioner. He is a graduate of the Swedish Institute and is the owner and founder of Brooklyn Reflexology.