Foot Reflexology or the firm but gentle manipulation of reflex points or areas in both feet, has been passed on from generation to generation for centuries. When humans first placed their feet on the earth's surface, they were naturally stimulated by walking and running over the uneven ground, but the introduction of sandals and shoes has reduced the feet's inborn sensitivity.
Reflexology as we now know it in the West has its origins in the study of zone therapy. Zone therapy is based on there being longitudinal lines of energy running up through the body from the feet to the brain, and from the hands to the brain. The development of acupuncture was founded on an understanding of these energy zones, but instead of gentle pressure being applied to specific points, fine needles are inserted under the skin to stimulate the energy pathway and so restore homeostasis to the body.
Acupuncture and acupressure are two of the most ancient methods of healing currently in use. The Nei Ching or Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine is the earliest known text on acupuncture. It is believed to have been written during the reign of Emperor Huang Ti between the years 2697 BC and 2596BC. In this book, 14 important channels within the human body were defined, 6 of which travel to or from the foot. All these channels link internal organs with sensitive points spreading over the skin. While this book mainly deals with acupuncture, there are also several paragraphs referring to massage.
The ancients in China had in common with the ancient Arabs, Gypsies, Hindus and Europeans, the practice of needling a point on the lobule of the ear to treat eye troubles such as pinkeye, myopia and cataract.
Reflexology, in common with other complementary therapies, is trying to gain
scientific credibility in order to be accepted by the mainstream medical
profession. Part of this process involves explaining how Reflexology works.
Listed below are some of the common theories of how Reflexology works. Many of
the theories are not exclusive to Reflexology, and can be applied to a number of
The science and artful application of Reflexology is moving forward and ever
changing. There are a host of Reflexologists all over the world with many, many
years of experience finding new and exciting ways of working with the reflexes
of the body.
Eunice Ingham who lived from 1889 - 1974, and who has often been referred to
as the "Mother of Reflexology", did wonderful pioneering work in
bringing Reflexology back into popularity as a healing modality. Her motivation
as she says in her book "Stories the Feet Can Tell through
Reflexology" (first published in1938) was that her work may prove to be
another stepping stone to greater heights along this new but effective way of
helping those who seek for better health and efficiency.