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Taken from the following websites:  Please see these for more information  

Flocco - History of Reflexology
ARCB - American Reflexology Certification Board
Washington Reflexology Association Reflexology History
Dwight Byers and Eunice Ingham - History of Reflexology
Kunz -  History of Reflexolgoy 
Kunz – About Reflexology 
International Institute of Reflexology  - History of Reflexology 
International Institute of Reflexology  - About Reflexology

This history of reflexology dates back thousands of years to ancient cultures that believed in the medical benefits of this technique. As reflexology is an ancient practice, its origin and history is difficult to track. However, reflexology is thought to have been passed down through an oral tradition, and possibly first recorded as a pictograph on the Egyptian tomb of Ankhamor in 2330 BC along with other medical procedures. Reflexology symbols are thought to be recorded on the feet of statues of Buddha in India and later China.

Zone Therapy was used as far back as AD1500. The American president, James Abram Garfield was said to apply pressure to his feet to relieve pain.

Sir Henry Head demonstrated in the early 20th Century that areas on the skin are supplied with nerves which have their origin in one spinal root; these areas are called dermatomes.


The re-discovery of some form of systemized foot treatment is accredited to Dr William Fitzgerald who called it Zone Therapy and drew it to the attention of the medical world between 1915 and 1917. It was in 1915 that an article entitled “To stop that toothache, squeeze your toe” was published in “Everybody’s Magazine”, written by Edwin Bowers, which first brought Dr Fitzgerald’s work on Zone Therapy before the public.

In 1917, Dr Fitzgerald wrote “Zone Therapy or Relieving Pain in the Home”. Two years later, they enlarged this book and published it under a second title “Zone Therapy or Curing Pain and Disease”.

 “Zone Theory”, divides the body into longitudinal, associated sections. He Dr Fitzgerald that pressure to one area of the body could have an anaesthetic effect to another, seemingly unconnected, area within the same body Zone. He found that when pain was relieved by this applied pressure, that the cause of the pain was also relieved.


Dr Fitzgerald’s system was employed by Dr Joe Shelby Riley, who ran a school teaching Zone Therapy, and furthered the research into pressure points on the feet. Working alongside him in the 1930s was Eunice Ingham, a physiotherapist, who mapped organs of the body on the feet, and published her findings in two books: “Stories the Feet Can Tell” and “Stories the Feet Have Told”. She is known as the pioneer of modern reflexology.


Dwight Byers is the current President of the Institute. He worked for many years with his Aunt and is equally keen that her work and that developed by the Institute more recently, should be passed on for the benefit of many people.

Throughout her forty years of experience treating many thousands of people, Eunice Ingham devised a system of techniques which enable the practitioner to contact the reflexes in the most effective and economic way. This system is known as the “Original Ingham Method” and though this method has been refined still further through research by Dwight Byers and staff at the Institute, her legacy is still thoroughly entwined in the practical techniques that we teach.

The years of World War II interrupted Eunice Ingham’s travelling for a time, but in 1947 she was joined on her lecture tour by her nephew. Each of Eunice Ingham’s seminars was unique. Her method of instruction was to demonstrate and lecture as she worked on the health problems of those who attended. Over the years, Dwight Byers has contributed to his aunt’s work by organising the seminars into training workshops. These have been further developed to produce the Diploma course that we teach in the UK.

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