Explore the Healing Powers of Reflexology at These Portland Spas

Like cuisine, music, film, and literature, the art of massage expresses itself distinctly across different cultures around the world. Here in Portland we’re fortunate to have many small businesses offering reflexology—typically a type of massage that focuses on the feet but can also include the hands, ears, and more—which is derived from the tui na massage practices found in traditional Chinese medicine. Whether you grew up with this as part of your health and wellness regimen, came to it later in life, or have yet to try it out, reflexology in its many forms offers something for everyone. These three places each offer a distinct take on the tradition, with excellent therapists and a calm atmosphere. Any one of them can serve as a jumping-off point for further exploration.

Overlook & Northwest District
Sole 2 Sole is a great place to start if you’re curious about reflexology massage. The company has two locations—one in North Portland, the other on the Slabtown/Pearl District border. I’m a regular at the one on Skidmore, which is in a brand-new building and feels clean, modern, and comfortable. A simple chair reflexology session focuses on hands and feet, includes a relaxing foot soak. If you type on a computer for a living, or work with your hands in a high-intensity setting, reflexology can especially help relieve pain in your joints and wrists, and your therapist at Sole 2 Sole may choose to employ a small scraping tool called gua sha, which helps improve circulation. The full menu of services also includes infrared sauna, full-body tui na massage, and cupping. 1314 N Skidmore St & 2113 NW Northrup St

At Golden Hour, massage traditions are fused with acupuncture, another form of traditional Chinese medicine with a practice history dating back thousands of years. If you’ve never tried acupuncture before—or the thought of needles makes you squeamish—this is absolutely the perfect place to try it out, in a serene, spa-like environment. A chair session here combines therapeutic massage of the neck and shoulders with a half-hour of gentle acupuncture; a brief consultation with your practitioner allows them to focus on your area of need, whether that might be general stress or more specific soreness. I am a huge believer in acupuncture for the relief of seasonal allergies—if you are an allergy sufferer, I cannot recommend trying this form of therapy enough—and have also experienced pretty incredible jolts of creativity and insight whilst under the needle, which feels almost like a form of meditation. It’s also possible to go deeper at Golden Hour with longer, more focused appointments including massage, cupping, aromatherapy, seasonal herbs, and much more. And be sure to browse the shop before you leave for a considered selection of soap, incense, tea, and much more. 410 SE Ash St

Healthy Foot Reflexology

Located in a small business courtyard off of 82nd (also home to My Brother’s Crawfish and Zero Degrees), Healthy Foot is short on frills, with a vibe more like visiting a medical office. If you’re seeking a more spa-style experience with your reflexology, this is perhaps not your first choice. But do not be fooled: Healthy Foot is home to serious reflexology practitioners who are ready to press, rub, knead, and pull you to another level of wellness. Services here used to start at just $20; these days it’s $40 for an hour (thanks, inflation), which is still a screaming deal. And the shop is open late for the after-work crowd. Same-day appointments are generally available by phone. Expect a combination of a foot soak and a full body massage, with emphasis on neck, back, and shoulders, as well as your arms and hands. Don’t ask too many questions, and set your expectations—the focus here is on the therapeutic benefits of tui na. Go with the flow, and you’ll walk away floating. 8230 SE Harrison St, 503-488-0489

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