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History of Zone Therapy and Reflexology

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The Zone Theory was the precursor to modern Reflexology, which began with Dr. William H. Fitzgerald, M.D in 1913. Dr. Fitzgerald, an American ear, nose and throat surgeon, noted that pressure on specific parts of the body could have an anaesthetizing effect on a related area. He called his work Zone Therapy.

Dr. Fitzgerald divided the body into ten equal and vertical zones, ending in the fingers and toes. He concluded that pressure on one part of a zone could affect everything else within that zone. Dr. Shelby Riley, D.C., N.D., worked closely with Dr. Fitzgerald and further developed Zone Therapy by added horizontal zones across the hands and feet, together with the longitudinal zones.

Eunice D. Ingham (1889-1974) a masseuse and physiotherapist worked closely with Dr. Riley and was fascinated by the concept of Zone Therapy and started developing her foot reflex theory in the early 1930’s. She had the opportunity to treat hundreds of patients where each reflex point was carefully and thoughtfully checked and rechecked until she was able to determine that the reflexes on the feet were an exact mirror image of the organs of the body.

Dr. Riley encouraged her to write her first book entitled “Stories The Feet Can Tell” where she documented her cases and carefully mapped out the reflexes on the feet, as we know them today. Her book was published in 1938 and was later translated into seven foreign languages. A latter book, published in 1945, was entitled “Zone Therapy and Gland Reflexes” and later reissued as “Stories Feet Have Told.” From 1946 to 1969 she toured annually, giving workshops and promoting Reflexology.

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