Massage is hindered from reaching the gold standard of scientific research, which includes placebo-controlled and double blind clinical trials.[86][87] Developing a "sham" manual therapy for massage would be difficult since even light touch massage could not be assumed to be completely devoid of effects on the subject.[86] It would also be difficult to find a subject that would not notice that they were getting less of a massage, and it would be impossible to blind the therapist.[86] Massage can employ randomized controlled trials, which are published in peer reviewed medical journals.[86] This type of study could increase the credibility of the profession because it displays that purported therapeutic effects are reproducible.[87]

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Swedish massage is one of the most recognized categories of massage techniques. The main focuses of Swedish massage are increasing blood flow and circulation, assisting in draining the lymphatic system to support immune system function, and creating a more relaxed state of being. Unobstructed blood flow and lymph drainage both help keep the body in good working order and are considered essential in maintaining the body’s defenses against illness and disease.

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The pathways postulated by reflexologists have not been anatomically demonstrated; and it is safe to assume that they do not exist. Similar rationales are used employed by iridologists (who imagine that eye markings represent disease throughout the body) and auricular acupuncturists who "map" body organs on the ear (a homunculus in the fetal position). The methodology is similar in both of these; and some commentators consider pressing on "acupuncture points" on the ear or elsewhere to be forms of reflexology, but most people refer to that as acupressure ("acupuncture without needles). The Reflexology Research Web site displays charts for foot and hand reflexology. The fees I have seen advertised have ranged from $35 to $100 per session.
Their website seems to conflate reflexology with acupuncture and acupressure. There are five tabs at the top of the home page: (1) Store, which links to a single page selling a reflexology foot massager, (2) Acupressure Points and (3) Reflexology Treatment, both of which have multiple articles on acupuncture and acupressure, (4) Reflexology Machines – foot massagers and acupressure mats, and (5) Courses. Notable by its absence is a tab for scientific studies showing that any of this stuff works.

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Clients interested in experiencing Swedish massage should seek out a reputable massage therapist to explore it. Often it takes several visits to multiple therapists to find one who is a good match with the client. Like other massage modalities, this form is most effective when undertaken at least once a month, although once every two weeks is a more therapeutically useful interval. Clients should remember to communicate clearly with the therapist for a productive session.

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