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What is Thai Foot Reflexology?

Thai foot reflexology applies pressure to areas of the feet using thumbs, fingers, knuckles and a wooden massage stick.

Thai foot reflexology is very popular in Thailand. It is suitable for any age group, from babies to seniors. Practitioners have practiced foot reflexology for centuries in India and China. Other types of reflexology include hand reflexology and ear reflexology.

Thai foot reflexology combines ancient Indian Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine concepts and techniques. Historically, local healers practiced foot reflexology at home, and Buddhist monks did treatments in Wats (Thai temples). Today, you can find foot reflexology virtually everywhere in Thailand, public markets, massage parlours, beaches, and the rest of the world in spas and massage salons.

Reflexology is much more than a foot massage. It is a natural healing therapy that is highly effective in dealing with many health complaints. A foot massage can promote relaxation but does not have long-term effects. Foot reflexology promotes equilibrium and well-being with a long-lasting impact.

Foot reflexology is an ancient therapy that promotes the body’s healing powers. During a treatment, the practitioner presses on specific acupressure points under, on the sides, or top of the feet. Pressing these points benefits the entire body and, notably, the internal organs.

According to Thai medicine, the feet are a mirror of the body. Each foot has ten reflex zones, and each reflex zone corresponds to a part of the body. Specific manipulation and pressure of the reflex points reduce blockages in the corresponding glands or organs, restoring a healthy balance.

There are many benefits of foot reflexology. First, a reflexology treatment will stimulate the organs, blood, lymphatic and nervous systems. Foot reflexology will also improve mobility and range of motion. Treatments will also bring relaxation and stress relief to the recipient and give a feeling of general well-being and calmness.


A typical Thai foot reflexology treatment begins with a practitioner cleaning the recipient’s feet. Traditionally, practitioners wash the recipient’s feet in a bowl and can also clean the foot with a wet cloth.

A foot reflexology treatment always begins on the left side, so the practitioner wraps the right foot in a towel before starting on the left foot.

There are five parts to a foot reflexology treatment. The practitioner will warm the foot with Thai foot stretches and then do preliminary work using a reflexology stick. The practitioner will then massage the recipient’s feet before starting the reflexology treatment. Once the practitioner has finished the reflex points, they will massage the recipient’s leg and begin the entire sequence on the right side.

The receiver’s feet should be within a comfortable distance from the practitioner. The best position for the receiver is to sit in a reclining chair. In this case, the practitioner sits on a stool. But a receiver may also lie down on a massage mat. In this case, the practitioner will sit on the floor and prop up the recipient’s feet with a bolster or pillow.

A Thai massage practitioner may use the thumbs, other fingers, knuckles, elbows, forearms, knees, feet, and specific tools (often wooden sticks) to work on the feet. The client usually sits on a comfortable soft chair, and the practitioner sits on the floor or a little stool.

Practitioners can do foot reflexology with or without using oils or creams. When a practitioner uses oil, there is more sliding and stroking. Without oil, a practitioner will do more acupressure manipulations, mobilization, and stretches.

A foot reflexology treatment usually includes the calf muscles or the entire leg. Sometimes, a practitioner will do a bit of arm, shoulder and neck work at the end of a session.


Reflexology Stick: Most reflexology sticks are made from fine-grained hardwood. The stick is 12.5 centimetres long and has one end thicker than the other.

Oil: Foot, body oil, or good quality skin lotion works well to lubricate the skin during a reflexology treatment.


There are conditions or situations where foot reflexology may harm the recipient. The recipient’s health history information is essential to evaluate any contraindications, and best serve the recipient’s needs.

Foot reflexology is safe when performed with adequate knowledge of the recipient’s physical condition. Physical disorders vary from one body system to another, and some reflex points may harm a person with particular health conditions. Therefore, the practitioner must know the recipient’s health condition and problem to perform foot reflexology safely.

Pregnant and Menstruating Women: Pregnant and menstruating women do not need permission from their physician for a foot reflexology treatment but never massage a pregnant woman who has any complications with her pregnancy. Apply less pressure and focus more on the warm-up techniques to provide comfort. Avoid reflex points 25, 34, 35 and 36, and do not perform warming techniques 11 and 12.

Cancer: Use light pressure and only five repetitions of each stroke instead of ten, and avoid reflex point 36 and warm-up technique 12.

Diabetes: Use light pressure and only five repetitions of each stroke instead of ten.

High Blood Pressure: Use light pressure and only five repetitions of each stroke instead of ten.

Heart Conditions: Use light pressure and only five repetitions of each stroke instead of ten.

Chronic Diseases: Use light pressure and only five repetitions of each stroke instead of ten.

Sensitive Skin: Use your thumbs instead of the reflexology stick.

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