top of page

History of Reflexology

maine reflexology

Brief Overview of the History of Reflexology


1917 Vertical Zone Theory, William Fitzgerald, MD, USA

Ten (10) vertical zones in body. The body divided into sections. Ten fingers, ten toes, 10 zones. 

1924 Horizontal Zone Theory, Joe Shelby Riley, MD, USA

Dr Riley's work suggested for the first time in recorded history, the existence of a map resembling the human body on the feet and hands. The horizontal zones divide the feet and hands into areas representing the 1. Head &  Neck, 2. Chest, 3. Upper & Mid Abdomen, and 4. Lower Abdomen & Pelvic Region

1957 Map on the ears, Paul Nogier, MD, France

1959 Map on the ears, Nanking Army Ear Acupuncture Research Team, PR China

1983 Popularizing Hand Reflexology, Ear Reflexology and Integration of Foot, Hand, Ear Reflexology, Bill Flocco, USA

Zone therapy, the underlining basis of Reflexology, was developed by William FitzGerald (considered the “father” of reflexology) in the 1900s, who taught Dr. Joe Shelby Riley, D.C.   He in turn taught Eunice Ingham (now known as the “mother” of modern reflexology), his Massage Therapist-Physical Therapist in the late 1930s.


Ingham’s profound contribution to the field of reflexology separated work on the reflexes of the feet from Zone Therapy in general, first calling it Zone Therapy, then Compression Massage and finally  Reflexology. 


She developed alternative pressure which she found stimulated healing. Ingham published 4 books. 


Her nephew Dwight Byers, continued her work through the International Institute of Reflexology until he passed in 2023.

bottom of page