A week later, I showed up for my appointment. Soon I was lying on a quilt-covered massage table staring at a dangling skeleton and a wall of diplomas from The Healing Arts Institute. J–, the owner’s wife, explained that she would be doing reflexology. Practitioners of reflexology believe that different points on the feet (or hands or ears) represent different parts of the body. The thyroid, for example, is below the big toe. The lungs are in the balls of the feet.The pancreas is in the arch. The theory is that applying pressure to these points on the foot helps correct problems in the organs/bones/glands they represent.
Deep Tissue Massage can release the chronic patterns of tension in the body through slow deep strokes on any contacted areas and deep finger pressure on the contracted areas, either following or going across the grain of muscles, tendons and fascia. It is called deep tissue, because it also focuses on the deeper layers of muscle tissue. It can help reduce pain, increase range of motion, relieve muscle spasms and improve circulation.
This may come as a surprise, but in fact there is no therapeutic benefit to stretching skin so hard that it feels like it is going to tear! And it is a completely different and uglier sensation than how fascial stretching can feel and should feel (more like a good massage). When I complained about this (politely), the therapists made no distinction between skin-tearing and fascial stretching, and more or less tried to tell me that I was objecting to perfectly good therapy. Needless to say, I never returned to those therapists.
A few months ago, I finally went to see a doctor. She diagnosed me with posterior tibial tendonitis — inflammation of the tendon that runs along the inside of the leg from the big toe into the calf. She prescribed physical therapy. Weeks later, I was still in pain. But because of a glitch with my insurance, I couldn’t see that doctor again. So I saw another doctor. Same diagnosis. He gave me wool pads to put in my shoes. They didn’t help either. I asked my physical therapist if I should undertake an intensive rehabilitation protocol I found by scouring PubMed. He shrugged. 

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A good massage therapist will never force pressure into the muscle. They will continue to apply pressure until the muscle pushes back against them. The muscle will then slowly begin to release and allow the therapist to move along it. The pressure used should not be painful, but should walk a fine line between pleasurable release of tension and a pain-blocking response from the body (tensing up).

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