History of Reflexology
Reflexology has an ancient origin, with the first signs of healing the body through hand and foot massage dating back thousands of years. One discovery in Egypt, found in the commonly referred to "Physicians Tomb", shows images of people receiving what seems to be hand and foot treatments which date back to 2330 b.c
This isn't the only example - the ancient Chinese used techniques on the hands and feet to promote good health and prevent disease. While in India, Ayurvedic medicine contains some of the oldest recorded system of healing which dates back some 5000 years, containing evidence that working the hands and feet to improve health was practiced.
Reflexology's evolution was greatly helped in the early 1900's by an American Ear, Nose and Throat specialist. Dr William Fitzgerald presented the theory that the human body could be divided into zones, and should an imbalance occur in one part of the zone, this could then be focused on in another part of the same zone. 'Zone therapy" as we know it today was born.
The practical application was that Fitzgerald divided the body up into 10 longitudinal, theoretical zones. By applying pressure to a specific area of a zone, he was able to alleviate pain in another area of the same zone. He went on to perform minor operations using only deep pressure techniques in place on anaesthetics.
A further development of Reflexology to the therapy we recognise today was greatly down to one woman. Eunice Ingham, or "The Mother of Reflexology" (as she is known), took zone therapy on a step. Through her own research and experiences, she managed to map out the organs and structures of the body within the 10 zones giving us the basis for the "Footmaps" we use today.
Reflexology continues to develop each year; with it’s popularity, so have many questions over how exactly it works and the need for clinical proof to explain the ‘how’.
While we wait for more definitive evidence, my personal opinion is that reflexology helps to return balance to the systems and structures of the body by stimulating the nerve endings in the feet. This helps to improves neural pathways between the brain and the organs and structures of the body.
I also believe that it helps to improve blood and lymphatic circulation, which provides the essential delivery of nutrient and oxygenated blood to cells and removal of waste products and toxins.
Reflexologists cannot diagnose, prescribe or cure and reflexology treatments should never be taken instead of medical advice.
Research and Articles
For examples of research and clinical information on Reflexology please see the links below: