Reflexology The origins of Reflexology evidently reach back to ancient Egypt as evidenced by inscriptions found in the physicians tomb at Saqqara in Egypt. The translation of the hieroglyphics are as follows: Dont hurt me. The practitioners reply:- I shall act so you praise me. We cannot determine the exact relationship between the ancient art as practiced by the early Egyptians and Reflexology as we know it today. Different forms of working the feet to effect health have been used all over the ancient world. Dr. Riley maintained that this form of healing spread from Egypt via the Roman Empire.

The Zone Theory was the precursor to modern Reflexology which began with Dr. William H. Fitzgerald, M.D. whom Dr. Edwin Bowers, M.D., encouraged to publish the many articles he had written on the subject of Zone Analgesia. In the forward to their combined book, Relieving Pain At Home published in, 1917, he wrote, Humanity is awakening to the fact that sickness, in a large percentage of cases, is an error – of body and mind.

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How true this has proved to be. Dr. Fitzgerald, was an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist working at the Boston City Hospital, as well as at St Francis Hospital in Connecticut. He called his work Zone Analgesia where pressure was applied to the corresponding bony eminence or to the zones corresponding to the location of the injury. He also used pressure points on the tongue, palate and the back of the pharynx wall in order to achieve the desired result of pain relief or analgesia.

He made use of the following tools: elastic bands, clothes pegs and aluminum combs, on the hands, surgical clamps for the tongue, nasal probes and a regular palpebral retractor for the pharynx, He was responsible for formulating the first chart on the longitudinal zones of the body. Dr. Fitzgerald discovered a very interesting fact, that the application of pressure on the zones not only relieved pain but in the majority of cases also relieved the underlying cause as well. The same result is experienced through Reflexology today, which is based partially on the Zone Theory. Dr. Shelby Riley, M.D.

worked closely with Dr. Fitzgerald and developed the Zone Theory further. It seems that he added horizontal zones across the hands and feet, together with the longitudinal zones and thus determining individual reflexes according to the Zone Theory. He, like Fitzgerald, espoused continual pressure on the reflex or point of contact. Eunice D.

Ingham, a Physical Therapist, worked closely with Dr. Riley and was fascinated by the concept of Zone Therapy and started developing her foot reflex theory in the early 1930’s. She had the opportunity to treat hundreds of patients where each reflex point of contact had been carefully and thoughtfully checked and rechecked until with all confidence she was able to determine that the reflexes on the feet were an exact mirror image of the organs of the body. Dr. Riley encouraged her to write her first book entitled Stories The Feet Can Tell where she documented her cases and carefully mapped out the reflexes on the feet as we know them today.

This book was published in 1938 and was later translated into seven foreign languages which spread the benefits of Reflexology way beyond the borders of the States. The confusion between Reflexology and Zone Therapy started at this point because the foreign publisher changed the name of Eunices book, The Stories The Feet Can Tell to Zone Therapy and in some parts of the world it is still thought of as Zone Therapy. However, there is a distinct difference between the two therapies. Zone Therapy relies solely on the zones to determine the area to be worked, whereas Reflexology takes the zones as well as the anatomical model to determine the area or areas to be worked. After the publication of her book Eunice Ingham found herself on the program at many health seminars. She traveled around the country giving book reviews.

Only sick and dilapidated people attended these book reviews/ seminars where she would teach people by working on them and discuss their particular health problems. As these sick people, whom everyone else had given up on, got better the word spread and Reflexology became better known amongst the medical fraternity as well as lay people. In the late 50’s Dwight Byers started helping Eunice Ingham at her seminars. In 1961 Dwight Byers and his sister Eusebia Messenger, RN joined their Aunt Eunice teaching at seminars on a full time basis. Seven years later they became responsible for the continued teaching of Reflexology under the banner of The National Institute of Reflexology.

In the mid 70’s Eusebia retired and Dwight Byers formed The International Institute of Reflexology, where the theories and techniques of Reflexology were further refined. Eunice Ingham died in 1974 at the age of 85 still thoroughly convinced that Reflexology could aid in easing the suffering of mankind. She was on the road with that message until the age of 80. Eunice Inghams undisputable contributions to the world of Reflexology are as follows: What is reflexology? Reflexology is the application of pressure, stretch and movement to the feet and hands to effect corresponding parts of the body. Reflexologists view the feet and hands as a mirror image of the body. By applying technique a reflexologist can break up patterns of stress in other parts of the body. Stress is a barrier to the body’s return to a normal state of equilibrium. ************************************************** ********************************** How does reflexology work? There are many theories but in our approach we look at the nervous system as the explanation of reflexology’s working.

Pressure applied to the feet generates a signal through the peripheral nervous system. From there it enters the central nervous system where it is processed in various parts of the brain. It is then relayed to the internal organs to allocate the necessary adjustments in fuel and oxygen, Finally a response is fashioned that is sent onto the motor system. This message is feed forward to adjust the body’s tone or overall tension level. If applied properly the tone will reset itself to a lower operating tempo. A lower operating tempo means a lessening of stress and less wear and tear on the body’s systems. ************************************************** ********** Where do you apply technique? We apply techniques to the feet and hands.

There is a school of thought that also applies it to the ear arguing it is also reflexology. The techniques, however, are modified from auricular therapy, an acupuncture technique. It could be argued that all bodywork is reflexive therefore reflexology. We find that the extremities have a powerful influence because of locomotion. While we acknowledge that repeated patterns exist throughout the body we find our most effective focus to be the feet and hands. ************************************************** ********** What are the benefits of reflexology ? In general terms the benefits of reflexology have to do with the reduction of stress.

Because the feet and hands help set the tension level for the rest of the body they are an easy way to interrupt the stress signal and reset homeostasis, the body’s equilibrium. Whether reflexology can benefit certain conditions and diseases in still under investigation. Further scientific study need to be done in order to come to some definite benefits of reflexology in regard to illness and disease. Reflexology is a complement to standard medical care. It should not be construed as medical advice.

It should not be a replacement to medical help. Please use it wisely. We care about your safety. ************************************************** ********** When should I do reflexology ? Reflexology can be done practically anytime and any where. The trick is consistency. We have been impressed with the results from China.

Their secret seems to be that they do reflexology once a day for six days in two week segments. Then they review the results and do more segments as necessary. This requires self help and family help as well as the guidance of practitioners. The practitioner can give you a quality signal to break up the pattern of stress but you and your family can provide the quantity to help break it up. Build reflexology into your life.

It is easy to do reflexology well doing other activities. Put a foot roller under your desk or work your hands while waiting for the kids at school. Be creative but be consistent. Five minutes a day is worth more than an hour once in awhile. ************************************************** ********** How can I learn more? We have designed a number of books with you in mind. If you are looking for self help try Hand and Foot Reflexology: A Self Help Guide.

If you want to work on your child try Parent’s Guide to Reflexology. If you would like to learn to be a reflexologist try Complete Guide to Foot Reflexology (Revised 1993) and Hand Reflexology Workbook. If you are interested in research try Medical Applications of Reflexology, Findings in Research about Safety, Efficacy, Mechanism of Action and Cost Effectiveness of Reflexology and Reflexions- the Journal of Reflexology Research Project. ************************************************** ********** Who does reflexology? There are a variety of people doing reflexology from concerned parents to doctors in China. It is a useful tool for a variety of situations. Many professions have taken up reflexology from cosmetologists to nurses.

Reflexology is now being introduced into hospitals and HMO’s. It is even being considered for insurance reimbursement. There are full time professionals doing reflexology. We think the future looks bright for reflexology and the profession of reflexology. ************************************************** ********** What should I expect from a reflexology session? Reflexology sessions in general last from 30 minutes to an hour. It is a clothed session with only the removal of shoes and socks as a requirement.

(Some massage therapists add it as a part of a overall massage session so they will require the removal of additional clothing.) Reflexologist will use a chair and at times a table. Some do use oil. However, this is a tool that is debated within the profession. Dry technique is common. Reflexologists use pressure, stretch and movement to work through the foot methodically.

The whole foot should be worked in most circumstances. Both feet should be covered as well. The reflexologist should work within your comfort zone. Too much pressure can actually be harmful and could lead to injury. But personal preference is something you should communicate with your reflexologist.

If you indicate that too much pressure is being used and the practitioner continues we suggest you stop the session. You should always have your wishes respected. Do not rely on a reflexologist for medical help. The reflexologist is limited to complementing medicine not replacing it. You should feel relaxation at the end of a session.

How long that relaxation lasts is a good indicator of the effectiveness of the session. Make note of this. And tell your reflexologist your response to the session. This can be helpful information. Finally enjoy the session.

Be careful that talking doesn’t interfere with the relaxation effect. Discussing world politics is probably something best left to another time. ************************************************** ********** Are there scientific studies? There are many studies on reflexology. The rush is now on to test the effectiveness on certain disorders. The jury is far from in but we have compiled some of the findings in Medical Applications of Reflexology, Findings in Research about Safety, Efficacy, Mechanism of Action and Cost Effectiveness of Reflexology. If you are looking for a specific problem and whether there has been testing try htm.

We also have a search engine at There are pages with listings at and and /faq.html But browse around. There are lots of research here. And more to come. So bookmark this site and come back often. ************************************************** ************ What is Reflexology Research Project? Reflexology Research Project is a project started in 1979 to forward the field of reflexology as a scientific method. We have written 6 books and have done Reflexions- the Journal of Reflexology Research Project since 1980.

We continue to actively promote research and the scientific study of reflexology on a worldwide basis. We maintain two web sites with two more in the works, Our sites are and Research Answers a Sixty Year-Old Question for Reflexologists ————————————————– —————————— What does reflexology do? For some sixty years, reflexologists have theorized about the effects on the body caused by reflexology. Since the publication of Eunice Ingham’s Stories the Feet Can Tell in 1938, the mantra of the practice has been that reflexology relaxes tension, normalizes gland and organ function, and improves circulation. Recent research has upheld such contentions and shown reflexology to be effective in several other areas.

(Numbers in parentheses refer to controlled studies listed on Controlled Studies on Reflexology ) A survey of reflexology research shows that reflexology work not only achieves results in these areas but als …