It is believed, that some form of Reflexology was already practiced in ancient Egypt and by indigenous cultures also here in America.
The first use of the word "Reflex" with reference to motor reactions was used by the German physiologist Johann August Unzer in 1771.
During the 19.century, Russian scientists pursued the study of Reflexology and in 1904 Ivan Pavlov received the Nobel Price for his theory of a conditioned reflex response (ringing bell and dog salivating). His fellow countryman and contemporary, Dr.Vladimir Bekterev studied reflexes from a psychological perspective and originated the term "Reflexology".
In the United States, Reflexology has been a welcomed complementary therapy since the 1930s. The modern history of Reflexology as an art of stress reduction is based on the theory that the body is reflected on the feet and hands in the shape of the body. This theory was developed by two American physicians, Dr.William Fitzgerald and Dr.Shelby Riley in the 1920s. Dr. William Fitzgerald is credited with being the father of "Zone Therapy" discovered in the early years of the last century, by dividing the body into 10 vertical zones. These zones continue and reflect on the hands and feet with 5 zones in each one. Dr.Riley, who was trained by Dr.Fitzgerald, developed this further and added eight horizontal lines to the zones of the hands and feet, showing that the reflexes found on hands and feet follow the anatomy of the body. During the 1930s, Eunice Ingham who worked for Dr.Riley continued to refine and improve his work and coined the reflex technique of "alternating pressure", rather than an numbing or analgesic effect as practiced before by Dr.Riley.
In recent history, over 300 studies have been conducted nationally and internationally on reflexology and its impact. Reflexology is popular in many countries around the world and increasingly here in the United States.