Zone Therapy



Are you a follower of the ongoing trend in the US of "going natural"? If you are buying organic food and doing your bit to protect the environment, you may also feel that the natural healing practices of our ancestors have a lot to offer even in the current times. You know how a nice foot massage helps in relieving stress, but have you heard of zone therapy-a precise physical therapy that promotes overall wellness of the body through stimulating pressure points in the feet and hand? It is a natural healing therapy that dates back to ancient times.

What is zone therapy?

Zone therapy, also referred to as reflexology, is a therapeutic method that relieves pain by correcting the imbalances in the various zones of the body. According to zone therapy, the human body is divided into 10 vertical zones of equal proportions ending at the toes and fingers.

How did it develop as a concept?

The origins of zone therapy can be traced back to ancient times. The reliefs on the walls of an Egyptian tomb from the Sixth Dynasty show men receiving foot and hand massages. This practice also existed in pre-dynastic China. All these indicate that our ancestors were well-versed in the concept of relieving pain through applying pressure on nerve endings.

In 1913, Dr. William H. Fitzgerald, an ENT specialist in the US developed the concept of zone therapy or zone analgesia. He divided the body into 10 equal and vertical zones which stretched from the head to the fingertips and the toes of the feet. According to Fitzgerald, pain could be relived if pressure was applied to the zone corresponding to the position of the injury. Fitzgerald's book, "Relieving Pain at Home", co-written with his colleague Dr. Edwin Bowers, was published in 1917 and gives details of the zone therapy. Dr. Shelby Riley, who was working closely with Dr. Fitzgerald, made a few more additions to the zone therapy, by adding horizontal zones along the hands and feet, to the vertical zones. During the 1930s, Eunice D. Ingham, a physical therapist who had worked with Dr. Riley started working on the zone therapy and made the discovery that there were reflexes on the feet, which were an mirror image of the organs in the body. This formed the basis of the foot reflex theory developed by her which she documented in her book, "Stories the Feet Can Tell" which was published in 1938. This book and subsequent workshops that Eunice Ingham conducted made "Reflexology" a popular concept.