Reflexology has a long history, dating back to ancient times. Evidence has been found in Egyptian, Indian, and Chinese cultures of working on the hands and feet.
In the early 1900’s Dr. William Fitzgerald, an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist, used a form of modern day Reflexology, Zone Therapy, to anesthetize patients during surgery. He established that there were zones that run in longitudinal lines from the head to the toes and from the head to the fingertips. He found that work on any part of these zones had an impact on all the organs and systems in that zone.
In 1924 Dr. Joseph Shelby Riley, a student of Dr. Fitzgerald’s, expanded this theory by adding that there were horizontal lines across both the hands and feet that helped to further define the zones. Both believed that continual pressure on a reflex within a zone could help decrease pain for patients.
In the 1930’s, Sir Charles Sherrington and Dr. Edgar Adrian shared the Nobel Prize for their work with the nervous system. Dr. Sherrington discovered any stimulus to any part of the nervous system will have an effect on the entire nervous system. Dr. Adrian discovered that the strength of a nerve impulse depends upon the size of the nerve rather than the amount of pressure applied to the nerve. These findings relate to reflexology since it is a pressure technique that has an impact on the nervous system.
Eunice Ingham, a nurse and physiotherapist worked with Dr. Riley on the concept of Zone Therapy. She carefully mapped the reflexes on the feet that corresponded to the organs and systems of the body based on her careful documentations of her work on hundreds. Her map is still in use today. She crisscrossed the United States to educate the public about Reflexology and its benefits. Her work has been carried on by her nephew Dwight Byers.
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