What is Reflexology

Your body holds deep wisdom.
Trust in it, learn from it, nourish it.
Watch your life transform and be healthy

Bella Bleue

The origins

Skilful hand manipulation of the feet or hands is known as reflexology. It originated in the east and Far East, and has been used and developed over the past fifty centuries or so. The oldest example of the practice is a wall painting in the tomb at Saqqara of ‘Ankmahor’ an Egyptian physician, dated around 2500-2300 BC.

At the end of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century the English, Germans and Russians were involved with pressure therapies to help prevent disease and for therapeutic benefits.

In London in 1898, Sir Henry Head, after years of clinical research, discovered zones on the skin which, when pressure was applied, became hypersensitive if an organ connected by nerves to the skin region was diseased. This became known as ‘Heads Zones’ or ‘Zones of Hyperalgesia’.

Around the same time in Russia, Ivan Sechenov developed the theory of conditioned reflexes. He proved that there is a direct relationship between stimulus and response. He observed that practically any stimulus could act as a conditioning stimulus to produce a conditioned response.

In the late 1890s and early 1900s, the Germans were developing Massage techniques, known as ‘reflex massage’. It is considered that they were first in applying massage to ‘reflex zones’.

Whilst being used in Europe since the Middle Ages, the Americans started to develop the practice scientifically in the twentieth century.

Twentieth Century

In 1917 Dr William Fitzgerald, considered the founder of zone therapy, combined with his colleague Dr Bowers to publish a book, ‘Zone Therapy’. Dr Fitzgerald had been intrigued by the work of a Dr Bressler, who had investigated treating organs with pressure points and found that if pressure were applied by fingers, it created a local anaesthetic effect on the body. Dr Fitzgerald divided the body into ten equal, longitudinal zones running the length of the body from the head to the toes. His theory was that parts of the body found within a certain zone are linked with another by energy flow within that zone and can affect one another.

The first detailed diagrams of the reflex points located in the feet were made by Dr Joseph Riley and his wife, Elizabeth, who refined the techniques of the zone therapy work of Dr Fitzgerald and Dr Bowers. They added eight horizontal divisions to the longitudinal zones. However, Eunice Ingham (left), Dr Riley’s assistant, is believed to have made the largest contribution to reflexology as we now know it.

In her work as a physiotherapist, Ingham believed that feet should be specifically targeted because of their particularly sensitive nature. She charted the feet in relation to the zones and their effects on the rest of the anatomy until she had evolved a map of the entire body on both feet. Her work, research and results are still used by reflexologists.


Today, reflexology is recognised as a non-intrusive complementary therapy that stimulates different areas of the body via manipulation of the hands and feet. A reflexologist will work on the reflex points and areas to help improve wellbeing, release stress, tension and toxins, enhance better sleep patterns and aid relaxation. Reflexology never claims to cure; everyone reacts differently to a treatment. The only way to experience this amazing holistic therapy is to try it for yourself.

Adapted Reflextherapy is a manual therapy developed by Gunnel Berry to treat patients with spinal/neck pain often as a result of whiplash. The treatment is applied using pressure on the feet or hands with a series of particular varied reflexology techniques which I can incorporate into a reflexology treatment if required.

Book your treatment