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Historical Roots

Whilst the art of reflexology dates back to Ancient Egypt, India and China, this therapy was not introduced to the West until Dry William Fitzgerald developed ‘Zone therapy’. He believed that reflex areas on the feet and hands were linked to other areas and organs of the body within the same zone.

In the 1930’s, Eunice Ingham further developed this zone theory into what is known as reflexology. Her opinion was that congestion or tension in any part of the foot is mirrored in the corresponding part of the body

Reflexology has its basis in many ancient cultures, which practised a form of reflexology to improve a person’s connection with Earth and its energies.

The form that is practised now is much more defined and exacting, focusing more on the effect on the physical being but recognized as being very influential in all aspects of the person.

FROM ANCIENT EGYPT:  The oldest evidence of practice was found in Saqqara, Egypt, within the tomb of a vizier known as Ankhmahor, which has been dated somewhere around the time of 2500-2330 BC.  It depicts two people giving treatment and two receiving, and conveys the relationship between the stimulation of points on the feet and hands and the physical response.

The Inca civilization is thought to have practised and passed their methods onto the Native American Indian tribes.  The Cherokee Indians of North Carolina claim that this method of treatment has been with them and practised for centuries to the benefit of the tribe as a whole.

The Eastern method of practice, established in India and China, recognized that the feet were an excellent way of accessing and positively affecting the energy meridians within the body.  These carry the body’s life force and connect the individual to the universe and its energies.  It is theorized that through the investigation into the location of pressure points, the practice of acupuncture was developed and honed as a skill.

Reflexology is a gentle, soothing, yet effective therapy, which is based on the message and stimulation of reflex areas found on the feet and hands, usually focusing on the feet.

To give you some idea of how the organs and body parts are positioned, imagine the toes as relating to the head, the upper portion relates to the chest and lung area, moving to the digestive area in the middle where the instep lies, with the pelvis and lower back reflexes being found in the heel; this is roughly how the body translates to the foot.

The feet are also divided up into longitudinal and horizontal zones, which enable the practitioner to pinpoint with precision the more elusive reflex areas, such as the kidney and adrenal gland reflexes.  The right half of the body, moving from outer shoulder edge across to the inner spine reflex, while the left foot reflects the left side; each includes the organs found on the respective sides of the body.


The way that reflexology works are quite amazing as it seems to have its effect on all aspects of the person.  The physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual self-care all affected as is the body’s energy system, all of which are fundamental in terms of holistic health and its principles.  The body is a complex mechanism with many parts working together for the benefit of the whole being.  When things are out of balance the body systems need to be encouraged to return to a harmonious state.  Reflexology, as a treatment, encourages the body to return to its homeostasis, its natural state of balance.  In terms of the physical aspect of the person, this therapy affects the body in a number of ways.

Firstly, there are thousands of nerve endings in the feet, which travel the length and breadth of the body.  These are stimulated by the massage of the reflex areas in the feet, positively affecting the nerve function and communication in the body.

Secondly, the message has another stimulating effect, this time concentrating on the circulatory system, improving the function of the blood and lymphatic movement.  The blood and lymphatic systems have an important role in keeping the body free and clear of waste products as well as transporting nutrients around the body; thus treatment stimulates this function, maintaining and increasing the efficacy of the circulatory system.

Thirdly, the stimulation of the reflex areas attributed to the glands and organs, in combination with the arousal of the blood, nerve and circulatory systems, has a positive effect on the body’s immune system, enhancing the innate defence mechanism’s strength and responsiveness.

What to expect:  When visiting someone or doing anything for the first time, it is always best to have some idea of what to expect before it actually happens.

All reflexologists have different ways of working but there are a few common features of most practices.

The duration of the treatment itself can vary as all reflexologists work at their own pace, but generally, it takes from 45 minutes to an hour to complete a session.

During treatment, your body may have certain immediate reactions to the stimulus.

Usually, your body and breathing relax, easing away tension.You may experience a tingling sensation, which runs through the body as the energy flow of the nervous system improves, occasionally being felt in the area being worked on.Sometimes the stomach starts growling as the tension releases and it is then able to move things more freely.

 Your body temperature can sometimes fluctuate as the energy and toxins move through the body. Emotions that have been suppressed, or prevalent in the time leading up to treatment can sometimes reveal themselves.  Don’t be fearful of this event, it happens infrequently but is usually necessary as part of the healing process.  Try not to resist it, the release is the best remedy.

Some pain may be felt during treatment over reflex areas that hold tension or relate to a condition or problem area that you may be aware of. The tenderness does ease as the tension or area is released and the therapist will work according to your needs.  Generally, tenderness and congestion signal a toxin build-up, muscle tension, or an emotional issue caught up in the body, and sometimes an energy blockage or imbalance–working on these areas can facilitate the healing process and any discomfort should ease.

People can and do fall asleep during treatment.  Don’t worry if sleep overpowers you, the treatment is all about healing and bringing yourself back to centre.  Sometimes sleep is what the body needs and is where the healing can begin.When the treatment has finished you may feel disorientated.  You should try to remain seated until you feel more alert and coherent.

After treatment, as the toxins move out of the body, you may feel a few side effects.  The best thing to do after treatment is to drink plenty of water.  The water will help the body flush out the toxins that the session has stimulated.  The movement of water will also hydrate the body and its organs, and help contribute to the energy boost felt later.

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