Reflexology is the practice of stimulating points on the feet that are thought to correspond to specific parts of the body. It is based on a reflexology chart or “zone theory” that maps out the body on the foot. It is not an everyday foot massage. Reflexology involves kneading the soft fleshy ball of the foot, pulling on the toes, tracing around the heel, and pushing deep into the arch. These are just a few of the many small, intense movements you’ll experience. While some spots may feel more sensitive than others, reflexologists will often say that pain indicates blocks in the energy pathways or weak organs and isn’t due to the pressure of the touch. In addition to manipulating the pressure points on the foot, reflexologists sometimes work on hands or ears to trigger relaxation. Some people say they feel hot or cold sensations. During a reflexology session, you’re clothed and seated or lying down while the therapist rubs, presses on, and squeezes points on your feet. The therapist may concentrate on specific areas to alleviate ailments (if you have sinus trouble, she’ll focus on your toes) or work on the whole foot with the aim of strengthening every system in the body. Read more about Reflexology with What is Reflexology? To help you find the massage that fits your specific needs, read Spafinder's guide to Which Massage is Right For You?, or select one of the links on this page for a different massage type.
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Prepare for one of those rare city moments where you can enjoy some peace and relaxation without having to actually leave the city. This dreamy spa in Chicago’s Near North Side neighborhood is perfect for a daylong pamper session, with amenities like a lap pool, health club, and some extraordinary spa treatments. The Signature Massage is one of their most popular because it is personalized for each guest according to their needs.
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.