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Massage Today
February, 2009, Vol. 09, Issue 02

Facial Reflexology

By Rita Woods, LMT

I thought that choosing to present information on facial reflexology would be an easy write. I use points on the face in my work and give a lot of credit to the many benefits my clients experience from this work. However, providing you with one workable system would mean ignoring other systems that provide equal or greater benefits so I decided to do what I teach my students - don't worry about naming the points or memorizing what they do; just cover the whole face and you'll get great results! Our focus here is not to treat a specific ailment but to provide whole body relaxation and balance during a massage session.

Most therapists are familiar with acupressure points and understand they are points along a meridian. Acupressure points and acupuncture points sort of go hand-in-hand in our business. There are systems of facial reflexology that use the acupressure points to bring about healing and balance elsewhere in the body. The points used might be Stomach 7 (St 7),which lies about an inch in front of the ear, or Large Intestine 20 (LI 20), which is beside the nostril. There is a system of Chinese facial rejuvenation using such acupressure points; in our facelift massage work, we try to focus on the points specific for that.

There are also systems of facial reflexology that mimic foot reflexology by projecting the soles of the feet onto the face. In this instance, each foot is superimposed over the face with the heels at the chin area and toes extending above the eyebrows. Each foot lies to the side of the nose with the big toes touching in the mid-forehead. In this system, the organs that you normally think of on the soles are now on the face.

 - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark In a similar projection, the whole body can be superimposed over the face in another system of facial reflexology. In this case, the torso resides over the bridge of the nose with the buttocks at the end of the nose. The head is in the center of the forehead. The arms warp over and around the eyes with the hands at the outside corners of the eyes. The legs surround the mouth with the knees at the corner and the feet coming together at the base of the chin. You know they say there is truth in a lot of clichés and this projection is no exception. Here's how I remember it: The head is the "third eye," "brown-nosing" places the buttocks at the end of the nose (don't laugh, I said it's how I remember it!), arms around the eyes means to "take it all in" and legs around the mouth means to "walk your talk." This system also allows you to visualize and work various body joints on the face.

Dien' Cham' is a Vietnamese system of facial reflexology that incorporates more than 500 points and claims to successfully treat many common ailments. They divide the face into grids to help locate the specific points and use an instrument such as the rounded end of a ball point pen as a tool to massage the points.

The Chinese also have "microsystems" of the face and head. The entire body can be worked just on the nose alone. Every organ and anatomical feature can be found down the bridge and the sides of the nose. Another microsystem incorporates the whole face for placement of the same anatomy. As an example in this system, the back begins just in front of the ear and runs down the jaw line.

There are still more systems and theories that we just don't have time to include but the point is simple - the face is an area that contains many points and reflex zones that when massaged can have benefits throughout the body. In fact, there are few areas on the face that are not involved with one reflexology system or another. Using the last 10 minutes of a massage for facial reflexology will benefit the client greatly. Next let's talk about how to work these points.

As a general rule, working from top to bottom relaxes and working from bottom to top activates. I like to relax first then, if the client is getting up soon, finish with a few bottom to top strokes to energize them. Along this same thought, short massage/activation of a point (4-5 seconds) typically excites the system while longer massage (45 seconds to several minutes) tones or relaxes the system. Although you are working lightly on the face, the client may still experience some discomfort if a point is sensitive. In this case, intermittent pressure can help calm the point. Some suggest a slight circular movement in clockwise direction for points. Some suggest only to lightly massage the point. Treat each point or area with a deliberate stroke but seam them together as a single movement.

Other things to keep in mind - some female clients won't want you to disturb their make up. If possible, ask your client to wash their face before doing any detailed face work. Use a lubricant that will not clog pores - jojoba works well for this as does a high quality skin care moisturizer. Avoid if rash is present or the client has signs of eczema or psoriasis. Especially if you are not accustomed to dealing with skin issues.

The face and scalp are easy targets for us to get to and offer a plethora of benefits to your clients. And let's face it, it makes for easy work on the therapist. Add a new service to your menu and start offering facial reflexology!

Click here for previous articles by Rita Woods, LMT.


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