Reflexology is a type of massage that involves applying varied pressure to reflex points on the feet or hands to bring about a state of relaxation to stimulate the body’s own healing processes. It’s based on a theory that reflex points on the feet are connected to the body organs and systems.
Whilst is thought that reflexology originated in China around 5000 years ago, it is also believed that a form of reflexology was practiced in Ancient Egypt, Japan and India.
The art of foot reflex therapy was introduced to the Western World in the twentieth century by Dr William Fitzgerald (1872-1942) an ear, nose and throat surgeon. Dr Fitzgerald 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 and fingers and called the treatment zone therapy.
Reflexology, as we know it today, was pioneered by Eunice Ingham (1889 – 1974). She was a physiotherapist working in a doctor’s practice and used zone therapy developed by Dr Fitzgerald. Mrs Ingham, after extensive research, developed the map of the entire body on the feet – where one point on the foot corresponds to a certain part of the body. By using acupressure or massage techniques on these points, she observed that a positive effect was created in the corresponding body part.
Eunice Ingham spent 30 years travelling around America teaching reflexology first to medical staff, and then to non-medical practitioners. Doreen Bayly introduced Reflexology to the UK on behalf of Eunice Ingham in the 1960s.
Reflexology is believed to be linked to many potential benefits, but only a few of them have been evaluated in scientific studies.
There is some evidence that reflexology can help you to relax, which will help you cope better with stress and anxiety and give a feeling of wellbeing.