Reflexology is not a 20th-century invention – it’s been around in one form or another for thousands of years. One of the earliest examples of its practice was discovered on a wall painting in an Egyptian tomb dating back to 2350BC. Early forms were also practised in Asia, alongside therapies such as shiatsu and acupuncture, and in Native North American folklore.
Its modern day roots are based in America, where, in 1915, ear, nose and throat specialist Dr William Fitzgerald, introduced ‘zone therapy’. He concluded that pressure on specific parts of the body could have an anaesthetising effect on related areas. He found that the body’s energy flows through zones, which run from foot to head, and found that pressure applied to a reflex point in one zone of the foot, could positively affect other parts of the body.
Zone therapy is the foundation of modern Reflexology, whereby Reflexologists apply pressure to specific areas of the feet and hands stimulating the circulation and nerve impulses to promote health throughout these 10 longitudinal zones. This pressure, applied to any of the ten zones, creates a positive direct response in the related body area.
In the 1930’s, US physiotherapist Eunice Ingham further developed zone therapy into what is now called Reflexology, with her ‘Reflex Method of Compression Technique’, producing detailed maps of the feet and hands that are seen as the blueprints for practitioners today.