Reflexology or the practice of touching the feet, face or hands to bring about well being is certainly nothing new.
The ancient Egyptians around 2330 BC, the Chinese 5000 years ago, and First Nations people across the globe, had been using the power of acupressure, working the hands and feet to restore balance, mental and spiritual well being, for thousands of years.
There is a tomb painting in Egypt, at Ankhmahor, depicting a physician manipulating and massaging the feet and hands of another person, along with many other historical artefacts and texts pertaining to this ancient practice.
But it wasn’t until the early part of the 20th century that a man called Dr William Fitzgerald, an ear, nose and throat specialist, discovered that by pressing one part of the body another body part would be anaesthetised.
Fitzgerald experimented attaching clamps and pegs to his patient's fingers and eventually performed minor operations, without the need for anaesthetic. Fitzgerald mapped the 10 longitudinal zones, 5 on each side of the spine, ending in each foot and running down the arms and into the tips of the fingers. All the organs and parts of the body lie along one or more of these zones, and it's these zones that Reflexology practitioners still use today.
Along with a colleague called Edwin Bowers, Fitzgerald published a book called 'Zone Therapy' in 1917, but the medical profession was still not on board.
However, gradually other doctors became interested, and in 1917 Doctors Joseph Riley and his wife Elizabeth Ann began to research the use of reflexology on their patients, at their school of chiropractic in Washington DC.
One of Riley's students was called Eunice Ingham. She was a physiotherapist and studied the work that Fitzgerald had done and concluded; that as all nerves ended in the feet this would surely be the best place to access the body's glands, organs, and systems. Eunice began mapping the feet in relation to the whole body and her charts are still used today by Reflexologists all over the world. Eunice also famously wrote two books: 'Stories The Feet Can Tell' and 'Stories The Feet Have Told'. These are still widely used by Reflexologists today.
However, it wasn’t until 1966 that a Doreen Bayly, a student who studied alongside Eunice in America, brought Reflexology to Britain, setting up her own school of Reflexology in Worcester, which still exists today.