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Roots of Reflexology

Reflexology Techniques - Yesterday and Today


Roots of Reflexology


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It is thought that reflexology has been around for thousands of years. Artwork unearthed from the Egyptian Sixth Dynasty suggests reflexology or foot manipulation was practiced during that time period.

The Britannica Online Encylopedia cites Russian Vladimir M. Bekhterev as working with reflexology as a component of his work with psychology in the nineteenth century. (see reference)

Reflexology Western Roots

Ear, Nose and Throat specialist Dr. William Fitzgerald (aka the Zone Therapist) devised the Zone Theory (originally called Zone Analgesia) along with Dr. Shelby Riley, M.D. Fitzgerald's work involved applying pressure to specific zones on the body to create an analgesic effect or give pain relief. He used a variety of tools such as elastic bands, clothespins, and clamps in his work. He has been sited for mapping out the first body zone charts. Reflexology that is practiced today is based partially on Fitzgerald's findings. Fitzgerald discovered that pressure applied to the zones went beyond just pain relief, but was also effective in treating the root causes of illness. Dr. Riley expanded Fitzgerald's theories to include horizontal zones on the hands and feet.

In the 1930s a physical therapist by the name of Eunice D. Ingham worked with Dr. Riley. She routinely treated patients under Dr. Riley's guidance and soon began developing her own theories on the treatment of reflexes on the feet. She authored a book in 1938 entitled Stories The Feet Can Tell, that documents her case studies. In 1961 Eunice's niece and nephew (Eusebia Messenger, RN and Dwight Byers) joined up with her to teach reflexology workshops. Dwight Byers formed The International Institute of Reflexology® in the 1970s. Eunice Ingham's method of treating the reflexes of the feet is trademarked as Original Ingham Method® of Reflexology.

Reflexology Techniques Being Practiced Today

Off-shoots reflexology modalities that have sprung forth from Zone Theory and Original Ingham Method® of Reflexology include:
  • American Standard Method
  • Universal Method of Reflexology
  • Zoku Shin Do, Japanese style of reflexology
  • The Flocco Method, integration of foot, hand, and ear reflexology
  • Gentle Touch Reflexology™
  • Rwo Shur Reflexology, foot reflexology commonly practiced in modern Asia.
Listed here are some techniques that combine reflexology with other schools of healing.
  • Hot Stone Reflexology (hot stone massage and reflexology)
  • SMART Ayurvedic Reflexology, the Stathis Method of Ayurvedic Reflex Therapy (SMART)
  • Grinberg Method
  • Metamorphic Technique
  • Vita Flex Therapy (nutrition and reflexology)
  • Chi-Reflexology (acupuncture, energy medicine, and reflexology)
  • Coordinative Reflexology (reflexology and massage)
Learn about more bodywork therapies

References: International Institute of Reflexology, Inc., Modern Institute of Reflexology, American Academy of Reflexology

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  7. Reflexology Roots and Off-Shoots - Various Reflexology Techniques and Modalities

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