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The History Of Reflexology

The History Of Reflexology

According to Issel, the oldest evidence documenting a treatment given to the feet is from an Egyptian Papyrus from 2,500 BC with an illustration depicting medical practitioners giving hand and foot treatment to patients. Also from Egypt, from the tomb of a physician named Ankhmahor, which comes from a wall hieroglyph depicting a foot treatment being given.

Egypt was one of the most highly developed civilisations of the ancient world and made great contributions to medicine, sanitation, astronomy engineering, and administration organisation. We have as yet no direct of it in Greek and Roman medicine but we do know thre was a strong tradition of massage in these cultures, which may have included special techniques on the feet.

A number of medical documents from ancient Greece, Egypt, and the Near East may have been destroyed on one of the fires at the great library at Alexandria. After Egyptian data, we have no firm evidence but might assume that techniques lived on in Europe through oral tradition. From Ayavedic medicine, we know that the ancient Indians practised a form of pressure technique on the feet as part of 'Marina' points. Similarly, Chinese Acupuncture uses may points on the feet.  We find the receiving special attention as part of Indian and Chinese massage techniques. Native Americans too, (example) The 'Cherokee Tribe', have traditionally used the feet as means of effecting healing on the body as a whole and have had specialised practitioners trained to do this. Their skills have been passed down orally from generation to generation.

The Origins Of Modern Reflexology

 Dr.William Fitzgerald, commonly known as the founder of zone therapy, was born in Connecticut, in 1872. He graduated in medicine from the University of Vermont in 1895 and practiced in hospitals in Vienna and London.

In Vienna he came into contact with the work of Dr.H Bressler who had been investigating the possibility of treating organs with pressure points. Through knowledge he gained in Europe and his own research, Fitgerald found that if pressurewas applied on the fingers, it would create a local anaesthetic effect on the hand, arms, and shoulder, right up to the jaw, face ear and nose. He applied pressure using small clamps that he placed on the tips. He was then able to carry out minor surgical operations using only this pressure technique.

Dr. Fitztgerald divided the body into zones, which he used fro his anaesthetic effect. By exerting pressure on a specific part of the body he learned to predict which parts of the body would be effected. Fitzgerald established ten equal longitudinal zones running the length of the body fromn the top of the head to the tips of the toes. The number ten corresponds to the fingers and toes and, therefore provides a simple numbering system.

Each finger and toe falls into one zone. The theory is the parts of the body found within a certain zone will be linked with one another by the energy flow within the zone and the parts of the body can therefore affect one another. ( for student information the book 'Zone Therapy' may be of some useful information ) Like many other practitioners such as 'Bowers' and 'Riley' developed and refined the theory of zone therapy, but it was Riley's assistance Enice Ingham (pictured) who probably made the greatest contribution to the establishment of modern reflexology. She seperated the work on the reflexes of the feet from zone therapy in general. Eunice Ingham (1879 - 1974) was referred to as 'The Mother Of reflexology' She used zone therapy in her work but felt that the feet should be specific targets for the therapy because of their highly sensitive nature. She charted the feet in relation to the zones and their effects on the rest of the anatomy until she had evolved on the feet themselves a map of the entire body.



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