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History of reflexology

The history of reflexology is a journey through ancient civilizations and modern medical advancements. For centuries, methods of massaging reflex zones have been practiced in various cultures.


In ancient Egypt, hygiene and personal beauty were crucial for both pharaohs and commoners. Engy El-Kilany, an Egyptologist at Minia University, highlights the focus on foot care in ancient Egyptian society. She points to the Papyrus of Kahun from the Middle Kingdom, referencing foot massage as a remedy for aching legs. El-Kilany also cataloged depictions of foot washing, massage, and pedicures in tomb paintings. These include pedicure scenes in the tomb of 5th Dynasty officials and reliefs in the tomb of 6th Dynasty physician Ankhmahor, possibly illustrating foot reflexology. El-Kilany suggests these practices reflect the Egyptians' dedication to bodily care and perfection in all aspects of life. (Eric A. Powell)

Temple of Bentota, Sri Lanka (c) Pinterest.jpg

Europe and West

At the beginning of the 20th century, American physician William Fitzgerald, captivated by Indian knowledge of reflexology, formalized this practice with his book "Zone Therapy" in 1917. In the 1930s, E. Ingham popularized reflexology with her widely-read work. In Europe, it was initially seen as a self-treatment method before being embraced by pioneers like Hanne Marquardt, Doreen Bayly in England, Elipio Zamboni in Italy, and Martine Faure-Alderson, who introduced a holistic approach in 2007 with "Total Reflexology Therapy."

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