The History of Reflexology

The History of Reflexology

Foot Reflexology as we know it today is a relatively new modality in the world. However, the origins and traditions of foot massage are steeped in History and can be dated as far back to early recording of picture drawings carved in Ankhmahor’s tomb in Egypt, dating back to 2330 BC.

Native American’s held the belief that massaging the feet helped maintain physical, mental and spiritual balance. In China foot massage was used for it’s therapeutic effects. Foot massage is part of our lifestyle, who doesn’t like getting a foot rub and feeling good after it?

This image on the left is from Ankhmahor’s tomb and on the right is an artist representation of the image.


Dr. William Fitzgerald was very much influential in beginning the movement towards modern day Reflexology. He was an American Ear, Nose and Throat Surgeon and discovered that by applying pressure to points on the hands or feet you could bring about an Anaesthesia effect on another part of the body. Which led him to develop Zone Therapy. Zone Therapy divides the body into 10 longitudinal zones, 5 on either side of the body. So too, each foot is divided into 5 longitudinal zones, mirroring the longitudinal zones of the body. A colleague of Dr. William Fitzgerald, was Dr. Edwin Bowers and he published an article in 1915 titled “To stop that toothache squeeze your toe” which created much interested and awareness on the relationship between the feet and the whole body, Both Dr. Bowers and Dr. William Fitzgerald published Zone Therapy in 1917.

These zones formed the basis of modern day Reflexology and are still used today. In the early 1930’s it was Eunice Ingham, a Physiotherapist who worked in Riley’s Chripractic School in Washington DC. The Rileys were interested in Zone Therapy and thus exposed Enuice Ingham to the Therapy which led her to chart the whole body onto the feet and developed Reflexology as we know it today. While foot maps vary slightly, the foot maps created by Eunice Ingham are still used by Reflexologist worldwide. She also discovered that by applying pressure to various part of the feet helped relieve pain. Eunice Ingham wrote 2 books, “Stories the feet can tell” and “Stories the feet have told”.


Above: Eunice Ingham and her Husband Fred Stopfel at an Osteopathic Event

“If you’re feeling out of kilter, don’t know why or what about, let your feet reveal the answer, find the sore spot, work it out.” – Eunice Ingham

Doreen Bayle, who was a nurse and had worked alongside Eunice Ingham in America, bought Reflexology to the UK in 1966, where she set up the Bayle School of Reflexology which still exits.

In the mid 1980’s Reflexology was introduced to the Irish Audience when  Sister Rosario from the Medical Missionaries of Mary, Drogheda, appeared on the Late Late Show, actually working on Gay Byrne, the Presenters feet. Some Irish graduates from Bayle School of Reflexology were Anthony Larkin, Gerry Longfield, Teresa Moloney, Annette Gardiner, Peter O’Donohue and Sheila Tracey. All paving the way for this amazing and wonderfully therapeutic modality to gain recognition amoung the Irish people.

I hope you found this history lesson interesting, If you are interested in booking in for a Reflexology session, please get in touch on 087-1917907.





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