HCP Reflexology Institute
History of Reflexology

Practiced in diverse cultures for centuries, Reflexology is a method of touch therapy and a universally acclaimed healing art and science. For preventative care or in response to physical or emotional distress, a Reflexology session acts as a catalyst to aid the body toward its own natural healing process.

Researchers believe that Reflexology is well over 5,500 years old. The first record of Reflexology is found in an Egyptian physician's tomb, which dates back to 2330 BC. Traces of 'foot work" also appear in other cultures such as China, India and early European going back thousands of years, indicating no one culture invented it. A carving of "The Foot of Vishnu" (a Hindu God) shows symbols on the bottom of the feet. Although the actual meaning of these symbols is unknown, their placement corresponds too closely with today's knowledge of specific reflex areas and corresponding organs and glands of the body to be merely a coincidence.

Today's methods are based on the work of Dr. William Fitzgerald an American ear, nose and throat surgeon, who studied the art of "pressure therapy in Europe and pioneered "Zone Therapy" in the USA. He noted that pressure on specific parts of the body could have an analgesic effect on a related area. Developing this theory, he divided the body into ten equal and vertical zones, ending in the fingers and toes. He concluded that pressure on one part of a zone could affect everything else within that zone. Thus, reflex areas on the feet and hands are linked to other areas and organs of the body within the same zone.

In the 1930's, Eunice Ingham, considered the “Mother of Reflexology”, further developed and refined the zone therapy into what is now known as Foot Reflexology. She observed that congestion or tension in any part of the foot mirrors congestion or tension in a corresponding part of the body. The feet could also be seen as a map of the body with the right foot representing the right hand side of the body and the left foot the left side, with the reflex areas being on the soles, the top and sides of the feet. Her study showed that the skilled application of pressure to specific points on the feet can restore balance to the body, consequently improving overall function and the body's ability to effectively respond to stress and illness.

Reflexology is based on the premise that there are reflex points in the hands, feet and ears that correspond with nerve pathways of the nervous system. In eastern medicine the premise is that the reflex points act on energy meridians, in which the organs and/or glands of the body are associated. Through the stimulation of the reflex points, the body releases various hormones, which in turn causes a relaxation process of the parasympathetic nervous system, increasing blood flow, lymphatic circulation and a rise in oxygen and immune levels, all of which help to restore balance to systems within the body.

Research in Reflexology is ongoing proving the benefits. Even though Reflexology is not applied for specific illness or disease, it's application has proven to be a natural and harmless way to health. The therapy is used to obtain relief from all kinds of conditions from general stress to specific disorders often where conventional treatment has failed. In addition to the reduction of stress, a physical benefit of a session can include improved blood and lymph circulation, which provides increased oxygenation to body tissue. The improved circulatory activity affects internal systems and organs, helping to relieve symptoms of physical hardships, which include digestive difficulties, sluggish bowel movement or pain associated with various physical conditions.

Reflexology can be used to maintain good health, to build resistance and to prevent illness. Health problems may also be detected before they become serious. Mental and physical tension is released, a state of relaxation is induced and energy and vitality abound. Simply put, the art of Reflexology brings about the restoration of balance, harmony and optimum health.





Evidence exists of some form of foot and hand therapy was being practiced in China around 4000BC as part of acupuncture and moxibustion.

Various tribes of the North American Indians are known to have practiced a form of foot therapy for hundreds of years.

Reflexology was first recognized in Russia in the late 1800's for it's physiological benefits after research demonstrated that a neurological relationship between the skin and internal organs.

The first book on "Zone Therapy" was produced in 1582 by two European Doctors Dr. Adamus and Dr. A. A'tatis.

The word "Reflexology" was coined in the 1800's in Russia.

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