While many people might believe that reflexology is a new concept, it is anything but new as it has a history that goes back thousands of years.


The Beginnings of Reflexology


The first real sign of reflexology came in the form of evidence whereby pressure massage was practised in China and Egypt that dates back to 4,000BC. At this time, it was used because of its therapeutic effects while it was also believed that it could help to prevent many different diseases.


The Tomb of Ankhmahor, who was an Egyptian physician was found with paintings on the wall and this dates back to 2,300BC. Thie painting depicts patients being administered hand and foot massages, proving that reflexology has an origin that runs deep into the history of past cultures. Many other cultures have also believed in reflexology and this includes Japanese and Indian and moving into the Middle Ages in Europe, it was known as Zone Therapy and this ultimately led to the modern-day reflexology that we know of today.



Moving into the 19th Century


As far as scientific research was concerned, the 19th century saw big changes and neurology was a prominent research area. It was through much of this research that the science behind reflexology and zone therapy became understood. In 1898, Dr Henry Head made a breakthrough whereby he discovered that diseased internal organs were linked to areas of skin that became sensitive to pressure. This revealed that when an internal function is disturbed, it becomes apparent on the outer body.


However, the modern reflexology that we know of became apparent because of a Dr William Fitzgerald. He was a Laryngologist who discovered that it was possible to press areas of the hands and feet in order to create an anaesthetic effect on another area of the body. As a result, he was then able to create a map of the body that was made up of ten zones, all of which correspond to certain areas of the body. Following this, he then published a book with Dr Edwin Bowers on Zone Therapy and it was at this point in the early 1900s that the USA became aware of reflexology.


The 20th Century


As reflexology and the understanding around it developed, further developments were made in the early 20th century. As a result, Dr Joseph Shelby Riley along with his wife created a reflex zone map of the feet indicating the many reflex point and how those points correspond with certain areas of the body. This work was continued by Eunice Ingham who developed new techniques for working the reflexes and this led to refinements being made to the reflex map of the feet. She then went onto develop and promote reflexology and it wasn’t until 1966 that reflexology was introduced to the UK.


So, reflexology is a therapy that is continuously developing and progressing, making it an effective therapy. Reflexology might have origins that date back thousands of years but now it is a treatment that can be adapted to meet the needs of every patient and that can help to promote the body and its own healing response.