Reflexology is a therapy that dates back thousands of years. It can actually be traced back to the ancient civilisations of Egypt, India, Native America and China. The oldest known documentation of reflexology is a pictograph that was found in the tomb of an Egyptian physician named Ankmahor at Saqqara dating back to 2330 BC, which depicts patients having treatments done on their hands and feet.
The Development of Modern Reflexology
The more modern form of reflexology was first pioneered by an ear, nose and throat surgeon by the name of Dr William Fitzgerald (1872-1942). Dr Fitzgerald was the founder of Zone Therapy, which was an earlier form of reflexology. He discovered that exerting pressure on the tips of the toes or fingers caused corresponding parts of the body to become anaesthetised. From this, Dr Fitzgerald divided the body into ten equal zones, which ran from the top of the head to the ends of the toes. By using tight elastic bands on the middle sections of the fingers or toes, or using pegs on the tips of the fingers, minor surgery could be carried out with no further anaesthetic agents required.
However, reflexology as we know it today was pioneered by a woman called Eunice Ingham (1889 – 1974), or the mother of reflexology. Eunice Ingham was a physiotherapist working in a doctor’s practice using the zone therapy developed by Dr Fitzgerald. After extensive research, she discovered that the reflexes on the feet were an exact mirror image of the organs of the body and developed the map of the entire body on the feet. By using acupressure or massage techniques on these points, a positive effect is created in the corresponding body part.
Eunice Ingham spent years travelling the world attending health seminars where she spoke with medical practitioners about her therapy and in later years was joined by her nephew Dwight Byers, who eventually took over the teaching seminars and established the International Institute of Reflexology. Eunice Ingham dedicated her life to helping others and was totally committed to the benefits of reflexology. Modern Western reflexology uses the charts and theories developed by her and are now called the Ingham Method.