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History of Reflexology

Reflexology has been around for centuries. According to Christine Issel, the practice appears in diverse cultures throughout history, in different ages and sites far removed from each other. Evidence of foot work has been found in China, India, Japan, Europe, and Egypt. There are records suggesting that the ancient Egyptians and Chinese practiced a form of reflexology before 2,330 BC.

The North American pioneer for reflexology was Dr. William Fitzgerald, MD., an ear-nose-throat specialist in Connecticut. In 1913, he became interested in zone therapy, the practice of alleviating pressure on specific parts of the body. Since then American doctors E.G. Bowers, MD. in New York and George Starr White, MD. in Los Angeles have explored the use of reflexology as a complementary therapy in the treatment of their patients. In the early 1930's therapy assistant Eunice Ingham designated that because the human foot has a high degree of sensitivity, this area should receive therapeutic massage treatment. Today, reflexology is gaining acceptance by a growing number of therapists and medical professionals who are seeking complementary forms of therapy for their patients.

Zone Theory

Zone theory explains the relationship between the organs and glands of the body to the hands or feet. The body is divided into ten zones that run in longitudinal lines from the top of the head to the tips of the toes. The right foot and right hand correspond to the organs on the right side of the body, such as the right eye, right shoulder, right kidney, etc. On the bottom of the feet and palms of the hands, there is a horizontal division that reflexologists consider a mirror image of the entire body. For instance, toes and fingers correspond to areas from the top of the head to the base of the neck. This system allows the reflexologist to target an area of physical discomfort of the body by stimulating one area of the foot or hand. "However, I suggest that both feet or hands receive complete work, as the body is considered one unit," states Virgininia.

Suggested Reading - Virginnia Recommends:

Reflexology: Art, Science & History
By Christine Issel. This is an excellent resource for those who want to learn about the history of reflexology. Christine conducted extensive research on the history of reflexology. Her book includes illustrations and a timeline.

Virginnia Sevilla, RCRT

Virginnia is based in Richmond, BC, Canada, and gives classes, workshop and reflexology treaments in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland of BC. See her current schedule for course details. Virginnia is a Certified Practitioner and Instructor for the Reflexology Association of Canada (RAC).

Call Virginnia at (604) 817-0466 for course information.

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