foot massage, feet massage. massage, labor massage, reflexology

What Foot Reflexology Can Do For Pregnancy Labor

     Researchers Hanjani, Tourzani, and Shoghi (2015) wanted to investigate the effects of foot reflexology in primigravida (first pregnancy) women during labor. The researchers had studied previous research which found that massage during labor can reduce labor pain, as well as anxiety (McNeill, Alderdice, & McMurray, 2006). Active management during labor was also found to minimize labor duration and pain as well as C-sections (Sadler, Davison, & McCowan, 2000). The researchers note that anxiety during labor can have ill effects on both mother and child, such as psychological disturbances or difficulties with delivery.
     The researchers also mentioned that massage during pregnancy can have many positive effects for the mother, such as reduction of nausea, fatigue, and constipation (Mollart, 2003).
     For their study, the researchers randomly tested 80 primigravida women who were in active labor. These women must not have received any pain medication or labor inducers. In addition, these women were tested to ensure they had no anxiety or psychological diseases. The women were then randomly assigned to two groups, reflexology or control.
     The reflexology group received a foot massage, with fixed or rotating pressure on the pituitary gland, Solar plexus, and uterine. The control group also received a foot massage, but in other areas. The researchers took measurements of pain and anxiety before intervention, 30 minutes, 1 hour, and 2 hours after beginning intervention, and at the end of intervention. The researchers also recorded the type and length of labor as well as the baby’s Apgar score at 1-minute and 5-minutes (The Apgar score is a test to check the baby’s health immediately after birth, so that medical attention may be provided if necessary. The higher the score, the better the health).
     The researchers found that anxiety was significantly reduced for mothers in the reflexology group. The control group had the opposite effect, as anxiety increased during labor. Both groups, however, had substantial reductions in pain intensity throughout labor. 92.5% of mothers in the reflexology group had natural vaginal deliveries, whereas 80% of mothers in the control group delivered vaginally. Mothers in the reflexology group had pointedly shorter labor durations than the control group mothers. Lastly, babies from the reflexology group had significantly higher scores than did those of the control group.
     The researchers concluded that reflexology massage during labor reduces pain intensity, anxiety, and duration of labor. It is also increases the occurrence of a natural vaginal delivery and a higher Apgar score for the child. While more research is needed, it is important to note that the effects of massage therapy has important potential for mothers in labor.

Mcneill, J. A., Alderdice, F. A., & Mcmurray, F. (2006). A retrospective cohort study exploring the relationship between antenatal reflexology and intranatal outcomes. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 12(2), 119-125. doi:10.1016/j.ctcp.2005.11.004

Moghimi-Hanjani, S., Mehdizadeh-Tourzani, Z., & Shoghi, M. (2015). The Effect of Foot Reflexology on Anxiety, Pain, and Outcomes of the Labor in Primigravida Women. Acta Medica Iranica, 53(8), 507-511.

Mollart, L. (2003). Single-blind trial addressing the differential effects of two reflexology techniques versus rest, on ankle and foot oedema in late pregnancy. Complementary Therapies in Nursing and Midwifery, 9(4), 203-208. doi:10.1016/s1353-6117(03)00054-4

Sadler, L. C., Davison, T., & Mccowan, L. M. (2000). A randomised controlled trial and meta-analysis of active management of labour. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 107(7), 909-915. doi:10.1111/j.1471-0528.2000.tb11091.x

osteoarthritis, massage therapy, oa, knee oa, massage

Osteoarthritis and Massage Therapy

Researchers published results of their study (Ali, Rosenberger, Weiss, Milak, & Perlman, 2016), investigating the effects of Swedish massage techniques on patients with osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee. The study’s aim was to investigate how massage therapy could help patients’ quality of life while living with OA.


Murphy & Helmick (2012) wrote that 10% of Americans suffer from OA. OA can cause severe pain, and may limit the physical abilities of the affected person. This can have an effect on the person’s daily life, as daily activities may become more challenging and/or painful. Other researchers (Perlman, Sabina, Williams, Njike, & Katz, 2006) previously held a study in which they tested whether massage therapy for OA of the knee was feasible, safe, and effective, and found that it was successful, including increasing functionality and decreasing pain.


For this new study, the researchers instead wanted to see how massage affected the emotional aspects of OA. A previous study by Hsu, Bluespruce, Sherman, & Cherkin (2010) investigated complementary and alternative treatments for people suffering from chronic back pain. The study found that these treatments increased positive emotional states for patients, as well as feelings of hope, improved their ability to relax, and also improved their ability to cope with the back pain.


For this study, the researchers used purposive sampling to find 18 adults as research participants. The qualitative study measured results through in-person and telephone interviews, both before and after treatment. Questions from these interviews asked about attitudes towards massage therapy and OA, as well as changes in these attitudes or lifestyle post-treatment. Participants were randomly assigned to receive 8 weeks of Swedish massage weekly or biweekly, for a session of 30 or 60 minutes. Researchers noted that this massage style was used due to its popularity in the United States, as it includes effleurage, petrissage, tapotement, vibration, friction, and skin rolling.


After 8 weeks, the participants discussed feelings of greater relaxation and a better quality of life. 44% of participants said the massages made it easier for them to relax, and half of said that the massage affected their “thoughts, feelings, reactions, and activities” (p. 5). However, some patients said the 30 minute sessions were too short, as it would end just as they were beginning to relax.


44% of participants also told researchers that the massage therapy improved their quality of life. These include functional abilities, emotional moods, mental state (including outlook on life), and overall well-being. Some participants explained that the massage had improved their physical abilities, so that they were able to carry out daily activities that OA had prevented before. One participant even told researchers that she needed her anti-inflammatory medication less, as the massage provided pain relief from her OA.


Almost a quarter of the participants reported short-term pain relief from massage therapy. In addition, 13 participants informed researchers that they believed massage therapy was an effective treatment for OA. Many of the participants explained their satisfaction with massage therapy, but were unhappy that massage therapy was not more available as a method of medical treatment.


These participants explained their unhappiness that insurance would not cover massage therapy as a method of treatment for their OA. Many believed its effectiveness warranted coverage through insurance. Researchers asked 10 participants if they would pursue massage therapy as treatment for their OA, if covered by insurance, and all 10 participants answered that they would.


This new research shows how massage therapy does more beyond physical healing and comfort, but stretches into improving the emotional aspects of chronic pain. Massage therapy continues to provide vast benefits to recipients, both physical and emotional.




Ali, A., Rosenberger, L., Weiss, T. R., Milak, C., & Perlman, A. I. (2016). Massage Therapy and Quality of Life in Osteoarthritis of the Knee: A Qualitative Study. Pain Med Pain Medicine. doi:10.1093/pm/pnw217

Hsu, C., Bluespruce, J., Sherman, K., & Cherkin, D. (2010). Unanticipated Benefits of CAM Therapies for Back Pain: An Exploration of Patient Experiences. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 16(2), 157-163. doi:10.1089/acm.2009.0188

Murphy, L., & Helmick, C. G. (2012). The Impact of Osteoarthritis in the United States. Orthopaedic Nursing, 31(2), 85-91. doi:10.1097/nor.0b013e31824fcd42

Perlman AI, Sabina A, Williams A, Njike VY, Katz DL. (2006). Massage Therapy for Osteoarthritis of the Knee: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Arch Intern Med. 166(22), 2533-2538. doi:10.1001/archinte.166.22.2533