Introduction

The benefits of reflexology have been known from Ancient Egyptian times, but the ‘mother’ of modern reflexology was Eunice Ingham, a physiotherapist in Florida, USA.

She developed the work of Dr William Fitzgerald and Dr Joe Shelby Riley, known as Zone Therapy. They had noticed that there are reflex points on the feet, hands, face and ears that correspond to different zones of the body.

In the 1930’s Eunice Ingham mapped the feet with all the corresponding organs and glands of the body and found that putting ‘variable and alternating pressure’ on the reflex points could initiate a healing response.

Reflexology was brought to England in the 1960’s by Doreen Bayly who opened a training school here. It is a complementary therapy and works alongside other therapies and medical science.

It is also a touch therapy. It is not known precisely how it works but it has been suggested that by stimulating precise pressure points on the feet a chain reaction is started sending messages, via the nervous system, to the brain. This can then cause the body’s own healing mechanisms to ‘kick-start’ in specific locations, or cause the brain to release chemicals such as endorphins which are the body’s natural pain and stress relievers.

Touch also stimulates endorphin production and the release of the hormone oxytocin, which is anti-inflammatory, and can relieve pain.