This is a massage technique that promotes applying pressure to precise points on the feet, hands, and ears to alleviate pain throughout the body.
Throughout history, reflexology has been practiced as a means to improve health by numerous cultures. Due to reflexology’s widespread use around the world, tracking its origin and complete history has been impossible. However, the first record of reflexology was used as a pictograph in the Egyptian tomb of Ankhamor. Along with other revolutionary medical procedures, reflexology was described using imprints made by feet in 2330 BC.
In addition to Ankhamor’s tomb, archaeologists discovered evidence of reflexology in ancient Korea and China (704 BC) and later in Japan (690 CE). In the fourteenth century, Marco Polo helped pass on the ancient technique by translating a Chinese massage book into his native Italian. Once the technique was introduced to Europe, Dr. Adamus and Dr. A’tatis published a volume defining an integral part of the therapy (zone therapy) in 1582. By the 19th century, reflexology had emerged in the West, as well as extensive research on the nervous system.
Once reflexology migrated to the Americas, the therapeutic practice became a globally practiced massage focusing on both the feet and hands of patients. In the United States in 1917, the father of reflexology – William H. Fitzgerald, MD – elaborated on the ten vertical zones still discussed today. His research suggested that the vertical zones, extending the length of the body, could promote pain relief if precise pressure was applied.