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Reflexology, or zone therapy, is the practice of controlled pressure, on ‘reflex zones’ found in the feet, hands and ears, with the goal of encouraging a beneficial effect on other parts of the body. It is also used to improve general health and for preventing illness as it may be for relieving symptoms of stress, injury, and illness.

Practitioners believe that the feet, hands, and ears are divided into a number of reflex zones corresponding to all parts of the body. These pressure points are reputed to connect directly through the nervous system and affect the bodily organs and glands. By means of this touching therapy, any part of the body that is the source of pain, illness, or potential debility can be strengthened through the application of pressure at the respective location.

In reflexology, it is believed that there is a ‘vital energy’ that is circulating between organs of the human body that penetrates into every living cell. Whenever this energy is blocked, the zone of blockage will be affected, and the reflex zones can indicate the blockage of energy in different organs. Therefore, if someone has a problem in a particular organ, a reflexologist will press on the corresponding reflex zone or zones, and the person will experience pain.

This pain is claimed to originate from calcified deposits (‘crystals’) in the reflex zone and, with massage, these crystalline structures are crushed and removed from the body, resulting in better blood flow. Simultaneously, the pressure applied to the reflex zones by the reflexologist is claimed to pass through the nerves to dissipate energy blocks.


Similar techniques to those currently practiced were used in India, China, Africa and many other parts of the world. The earliest practice of reflexology was found in Saqqara, Egypt on the tomb of Ankhmahor dating 2330 BC. Pictures etched on the walls show drawings of a person holding the foot of another person and applying massage to the sole of the foot.

Although its origins can be traced back to ancient times, reflexology as we know it in western culture was developed by an American named Dr. William Fitzgerald about a century ago.

Dr. William Fitzgerald found that by applying pressure to one part of the body, he could relieve pain in another part of the body. This led him to believe they were linked by a flow of energy. After much research into the phenomenon, he came to develop a healing system he called ‘zone therapy’.

It was further developed from 1889-1974 by American physiotherapist named Eunice Ingham. The foot was mapped out into areas corresponding to the various glands, organs and systems of the body. The whole body therefore is represented in the feet. Since then, reflex points have been located to include the hands and even entire body by such practitioners as Mildred Carter.


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