Reflexology and massage

What are the differences/similarities between Reflexology and Massage?

Is there any difference between the two?

Some people think Reflexology is just a glorious 60 minute foot massage and are unclear what the differences are between reflexology and massage.  They are two different modalities each with its own strengths.




Reflexology is applied to specific areas (usually the feet) to heal the parts of the body, which cannot be touched from the outside by manipulating pressure points. This technique is similar to acupuncture and acupressure.


Only the footwear needs to come off, only the feet and lower legs are touched.

Massage is the manipulation of the soft tissues of the body, the muscles, tendons and ligaments.  It may be applied to the whole body or specific parts.



It is preferred that most clothing be removed since skin to skin contact is best. 

The reflexologist uses small muscle movements primarily thumbs and fingers.

The massage therapist uses large muscle movement. Hands (either opened or closed) and sometimes arms and elbows

The purpose is to improve the function of organs and glands, and all systems of the body.


Works with the function of the body.

The purpose is to work with the structure of the body to primarily change the soft tissue directly stimulated for a mechanical effect or to create a reflex effect mediated by the nervous system.

Reflexology brings total body relaxation leading to the balancing of all internal and external body systems; improving circulation by stimulating the nervous and energy systems.

Depending on the type and location of the application, massage can have an effect on most major systems of the body including the cardiovascular, respiratory, muscular and nervous.


Reflexology opens and clears neural pathways as well as interrupting the pain pathways making it beneficial for many forms of pain.  It also stimulates the lymphatic system therefore reducing the risk of infection; cleansing the body of toxins and stimulating the production of endorphins which leads to an improved immune system and sense of wellbeing.


Both reflexology and massage are beneficial for all ages.  Babies are very responsive to both modalities.  Both offer a natural, low cost option to offsetting the effects of stress on your overall health and research tells us 80% or more of diseases are stress related.  The aim of both massage and reflexology is to enhance the wellbeing of the client. 


A regular program of massage and/or reflexology will put you in touch with your body, teaching you to monitor its signal and needs.

Michelle Haché is a certified reflexologist with the Ontario College of Reflexology a Registered Reflexology Practitioner with the Reflexology Registration Council of Ontario, a Reiki practitioner as well as a fitness and birth professional in Burlington, ON. She teaches fitness classes for the City of Burlington; along with her work at Birth Beginnings she has been able to make positive impacts on the health and wellbeing of many. She is passionate about her job because she recognizes her small acts have a huge impact on the individuals and therefore the families and communities she works with.