What is Reflexology?
Reflexology is a natural therapy which involves the application of gentle pressure to the reflex areas on the feet. These reflexes in the feet correspond to different organs of the body. Reflexology brings about a state of relaxation and by the application of pressure to the relevant reflexes, the body’s own healing process is stimulated. Reflexology can facilitate more energy, help to boost the immune system and help a person return to a state of balance and well-being.
The reflex areas in the feet are very specific and through applying gentle pressure a therapist can feel any imbalance in any system of the body. The state of ones health is therefore reflected in the feet and a therapist will decide which reflexes to concentrate on so as to bring the systems of the body back into balance and achieve optimum health.
History of Reflexology
There is evidence of some form of reflexology being practiced in China as long ago as 2330 B.C. and also at the same time in Egypt, as depicted in the tomb of Ankmahor, an Egyptian physician. In addition, the North American tribes of Indians are known to have practiced a form of foot therapy for hundreds of years.
Modern reflexology is based on this ancient form of foot therapy which has been adapted by doctors such as Sir Henry Head and Sir Charles Sherrington in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Sir Henry Head was an English Neurologist who discovered that body parts that were diseased could be identified by sensitive areas on the skin. Sir Henry Head discovered that healing could occur by direct pressure to one area of the body having a direct effect to another area within the same zone of the body. Sir Charles Sherrington showed how nerves were able to transmit signals around the body via the Central Nervous System in order to control various body functions.
The theory of zones within the body was discovered by Dr William Fitzgerald in 1917. The ‘zone theory’ states that the body is divided into ten longitudinal zones, five on each side of the body. The principal is based on energy flowing through these zones and if this energy becomes blocked then it can upset the balance in the other organs in that same zone. Dr Fitzgerald also established that applying pressure to one area of the body in a particular zone could induce a numbing effect on another part of the body in that zone.
In the 1930’s Eunice Ingham, developed the technique of Reflexology as we know it today. She focused attention on the feet because of their sensitivity (there are 7000 nerves in the feet) and mapped out the entire body and all its organs onto the different sections of the foot. Although Eunice Ingham’s method has been improved and refined, her legacy is still present in the practical techniques taught to reflexology students today.