Illustrations and hieroglyphics on tomb walls show what appears to be therapeutic foot manipulation being practiced by ancient medicine men.
Two American doctors, William H. Fitzgerald and Edwin Bowers, publish "Relieving Pain at Home," a book which advanced "Zone Analgesia" - the idea that bodily afflictions can be alleviated by working corresponding pressure points on the body. Zone Theory, as it comes to be known, is a forerunner of modern reflexology.
Eunice D. Ingham, a Rochester woman, begins to develop theories of foot reflexology based on her interest in Fitzgerald's work. In 1938, she publishes a book which maps out the exact areas of the feet which, she argues, correspond to bodily organs, glands, and reflexes. The book is translated into seven languages, and Ingham tours around the country giving workshops and treating the ill.
The National Institute of Reflexology is formed by Ingham and her followers. Ingham dies in 1974.
1970s The National Institute becomes the International Institute of Reflexology, an organization which exists today and which certifies trained reflexology practitioners in the U.S. and around the world. Current head of the Institute is Dwight C. Byers, Ingham's nephew.
2000s Skyrocketing number of day spas propels new interest in "reflexology" as a therapeutic and pampering treatment. But not all reflexologists are certified in one of the principal methods; some are massage therapists, others have received little instruction. Check carefully to make sure of what you are getting, if you seek a treatment.
- Buffalo News research