The History of Reflexology


Those practicing reflexology have a proud tradition of promoting well-being and health. Reflexology is a time honored approach and reaches back many thousands of years. Those who come to you for reflexology may inquire about the history of reflexology. Here are some ‘fast facts’ that may be interesting to them … and to you!


  • Documentation of Reflexology is evident in a pictograph found in the tomb of an Egyptian Physician (2500-2330 B.C.) in Saqqara, near Cairo.

  • There is a strong belief that a form of reflexology was practiced in both ancient China and India, perhaps as much as 4000 years ago.

  • Native American approaches to reflexology are increasingly well known, Cherokee Native Americans have long appreciated a relationship between maintaining health, through the feet and hands and overall sacred healing.


  • Physicians in Russia and England have appreciated the relationship between the skin and internal organs. In both countries, there is  research dating back over 130 years, extolling the relationship of pressure on certain spots in the feet and hands to muscle contractions, blood pressure and mental state

  • Dr. William Fitzpatrick (1872-1942) an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist and the Father of Zone Therapy, is credited with developing an early form of reflexology. His work in the early 20th century suggested that pressure on the tips of the toes or fingers would anaesthetize corresponding body parts. He divided the body into 10 parts (zones), applied pressure using his hands, bands or clamps and found that he could calm patients. Though controversial at the time, Dr. Fitzgerald had a loyal number of patients and followers, including many colleagues.

  • Eunice Ingraham (1889-1974) is considered the Mother of Modern Reflexology. She, herself, was a trained physiotherapist who worked with doctors and was quite compelled by Dr. Fitzgerald’s Zone Therapy. Ms. Ingraham did extensive research, published two books in the field and is possibly best known for her well-developed theory of Reflexology known as the Ingraham Method. Her work is carried on by the International Institute of Reflexology, led by her nephew Dwight Ingraham.