What's the history?
Used as a healing tool for over 5,000 years, the earliest example of what is believed to be reflexology, is in the form of a wall painting, found in an Egyptian physician's tomb. The painting depicts two figures giving what seems to be a form of reflexology to two patients. One practitioner working on the feet, the other on the hands. Translated hieroglyphs are said to read the patient requesting ‘Do not hurt me’ the practitioner replying ‘ I shall act so that you will praise me’
Zone therapy was the precursor to modern reflexology. Reborn through the work of William H Fitzgerald (1872 – 1942) Fitzgerald, an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist, discovered that applying pressure to the tops of fingers using metal clamps and winding elastic bands around the middle section of each finger created an anaesthetic effect on the facial area. Fitzgerald called his work ‘zone analgesia’ (through finding that by implementing the above practice he was able to complete simple ear, nose and throat surgical operations without the need for anaesthesia) and was responsible for formulating the first chart showing longitudinal lines of energy radiating through the body. He called these Zonal pathways.
Having written numerous articles on his area of interest ‘applying pressure to relieve pain’ Dr Fitzgerald and another Dr, Edwin Bowers produced a book together in 1917. The book was given the title ‘ Relieving pain at home’ - its foreword read ‘Humanity is awakening to the fact that sickness, in a large percentage of cases, is an error of body and mind’
The Zone Therapy to Reflexology progression was brought by Eunice D Ingham. Now referred to as 'The mother of reflexology' Eunice Ingham was a physiotherapist who worked alongside Dr Riley, a physician who happened to be a great believer in Fitzgerald's work. Ingham became fascinated by the idea of zone therapy and as a result started developing her foot reflexology theory in the early 1930s. Having the opportunity to treat hundreds of patients, she rigorously checked each and every reflex and mapped reflex points working on the basis that specific isolated areas within those zones would stimulate particular organs and glands within the body. The foot maps created by Eunice Ingham form the basis of modern Western reflexology today.
Reflexology was brought to the UK in 1966 by Doreen Bayley, who trained under Eunice Ingham in America.