History of Reflexology
Since the beginning of human history, men always looked at ways to naturally heal themselves. As civilizations of the past progressed, they looked for ways in which their health could be kept at its optimum level with minimal effort. Whether through the use of herbs, water, foods or rituals that included the hands and feet, they were able to a certain degree achieve their goal.
Ancient Beginnings of Reflexology
Archeological evidence of many ancient civilizations shows and defines certain anatomical areas of the human body holding a great importance in what remains of their history, some focusing especially on the hands and feet. Why was so much emphasis placed on these two parts of the body by ancient civilizations?
From the ancient Babylonians, Egyptians and those in the Indus Valley, to the native populations of North, Central and South America, healing rituals used by these civilizations included the touching, washing and what we believe to be a specific forms of manipulation of the hands and feet. Was this what we now call reflexology? All we can state is that as continued archeological discoveries occur, new facts will be revealed and more light will be shed on this question and on the origins of this science.
At the present time written, hieroglyphics and pictographical records manifest that a form of reflexology might have existed for thousands of years. Most of the Holy Books of the various religions, dating back further than the beginning of present day era, clearly defines and describes the importance of the feet and hands. Specific instances where the action of healing and relaxation was carried out via some sort of manipulation of these two parts of the human anatomy are shown. A multitude of evidence has been presented by many scholars that reflexology, or a form of this therapy, was widely used in China, Egypt and in many places where ancient human civilizations flourished.
Reflexology in the Modern Era
Reflexology, as we know it today, was brought about in the early 1900's by physician Dr. William Fitzgerald. He concluded that the body had ten longitudinal lines of energy. From his discovery, he came up with the “Zone” theory. The zone theory is based on these ten longitudinal lines of energy that start from the top of the head and run all the way down to the bottom of the feet, having five zones or lines on the right side and five on the left. These zones or lines ran through every part of the body. From the use of compression of these reflexes, amazing clinical results were achieved. The Zone therapy aided many patients to heal themselves of their various conditions.
New concepts of healing accompanied Dr. Fitzgerald on further development of Zone therapy. Other physicians aided in the development of this therapy included, Dr. George Starr Whitey, Dr. Edwin F. Bowers and R.G. Wilborn D.C. All of these doctors concluded with Dr. Fitzgerald that Zone reflex therapy had a profound benefit in aiding the body to heal with no invasive procedure. Their research showed that it actually worked and produced positive conclusions on their patients.
Another Doctor by the name of Dr. Joe Shelby Riley, along with his wife, Elizabeth Ann Riley, did further research on Zone therapy. After attending one of Dr. Fitzgerald’s seminars in the early 1900's, they became very interested in his theory and they themselves began to do their own clinical research, and implemented new techniques and procedures. This was a fascinating time for all of these doctors involved with such a highly progressive science that used no drugs or surgery to help heal the body!
For many years, Dr. Joe Shelby Riley and his wife worked with a physiotherapist named Eunice D. Ingham. Eunice closely watched and actively practiced and documented all of the findings of the new development of Zone therapy. She helped the correlations and connections to specific organs and glands and their location on the reflexes of the feet and hands. She further carried out the work of these pioneering doctors and developed her own specific method of compressions of the reflexes using the thumbs and fingers. She also developed her own charts, which pinpointed all areas of the body.
Eunice Ingham traveled for many years across the US and abroad, teaching and lecturing on the method that she developed. Alongside Eunice was her young nephew Dwight C. Byers, who accompanied her and helped her with tasks related to her findings. Eunice Ingham’s method of Reflexology, which uses the thumb and fingers in a specific way, is now the basis of all modern reflexology as we know today. The history of Reflexology is constantly being written about by many, as new discoveries, clinical concepts and studies are added. These new concepts are integrated into the use of Reflexology as the natural approach to healing that it has become.
Gratitude to the Founders of Reflexolgy
The founding pioneers of reflexology as we know it today are considered to be Dr. William H. Fitzgerald, Dr. Joe Shelby Riley and Eunice D. Ingham. Much gratitude is bestowed on these founders of this science. Without their research, practice, contribution and clinical documented studies, the practice of reflexology would not be the same today.