Reflexology vs Swedish Massage for Stress and Pain and Mood (18 cases)

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Reflexology Versus Swedish Massage to Reduce Physiologic Stress and Pain and Improve Mood in Nursing Home Residents With Cancer: A Pilot Trial



The purpose of this pilot study was to investigate and compare the effects of reflexology and Swedish massage therapy on physiologic stress, pain, and mood in older cancer survivors residing in nursing homes.


An experimental, repeated-measures, crossover design study of 18 nursing home residents aged 75 or over and diagnosed with solid tumor in the past 5 years and following completion of cancer treatments.

The intervention tested was 20 minutes of Swedish Massage Therapy to the lower extremities, versus 20 minute Reflexology, using highly specified protocols. Pre- and post-intervention levels of salivary cortisol, observed affect, and pain were compared in the Swedish Massage Therapy and Reflexology conditions.


Both Reflexology and Swedish Massage resulted in significant declines in salivary cortisol and pain and improvements in mood.


Preliminary data suggest that studies of Swedish Massage Therapy and Reflexology are feasible in this population of cancer survivors typically excluded from trials. Both interventions were well tolerated and produced measurable improvements in outcomes. Further research is needed to explore the mechanisms underlying the potential benefits of these CAM modalities in this patient population.


Hodgson NA, Lafferty D. Reflexology versus Swedish Massage to Reduce Physiologic Stress and Pain and Improve Mood in Nursing Home Residents with Cancer: A Pilot Trial. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:456897. doi:10.1155/2012/456897

Actionable Information for Reflexologists

In this section you will find how this research paper enacted reflexology to produce these results. We at Reflexology.Report distilled the Methodology portion of this research paper and we are presenting you with:

  • General methods used
  • Organization and duration of sessions
  • Reflexology points

The purpose of this section is to make this research paper useful to all reflexologists. This is a tool developed by the Center of Reflexology and Research (Κέντρο Ρεφλεξολογίας και Έρευνας) in Greece and supervised volunteers from across the world.

The Reflexology Intervention was based on the original Ingram method and used a combination of finger pivot and thumb walking techniques to the base of the foot and the toes that correspond with reflex points. The sole, instep, and lateral aspects of the foot were stimulated 5 times, each foot for a total of 10 minutes per foot (20 minutes total).

Η παρέμβαση ρεφλεξολογίας βασίστηκε στην αρχική μέθοδο Ingram. Χρησιμοποιήθηκε ένας συνδυασμός τεχνικών περιστροφής δακτύλου και κινήσεων του αντίχειρα σε μορφή “κάμπιας” στη βάση του ποδιού και των δακτύλων που αντιστοιχούν σε αντανακλαστικά σημεία. Το πέλμα, η καμάρα και τα πλευρικά σημεία του ποδιού διεγέρθηκαν 5 φορές, κάθε πόδι για συνολικά 10 λεπτά (σύνολο 20 λεπτών).

Full pdf of the research paper

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