Reflexology Pressure Map Explained

Reflexology Pressure Map Explained




Reflexology is a healing technique that is gaining prevalence in modern healthcare owing to an increased desire for more holistic interventions among patients. Despite a relatively recent increase in popularity, reflexology has been around for literally thousands of years.



The consensus being that this practice originated in China over two thousand years ago!


Using the assumption that virtually every organ and anatomical structure can be linked to a specific point on the feet, hands or ears, treatment involves applying direct pressure to these spots in an attempt to alleviate some dysfunction of the correlated organ. While the actual contact points differ across various forms of reflexology, the use of a “body map” to direct treatment is universal.



In this article, we will discuss the “body” or “pressure” map utilized by the western approach to reflexology. Important aspects such as history and correlating body locations will be explained in enough detail to hopefully provide those with an elementary knowledge of reflexology the information needed to grasp the overall concept.


The modern map used in western reflexology is believed to have come from Dr. Fitzgerald. In the early 1900’s, he began work on the topic of reflexology and more specifically, what he called the “Zone Theory”.



Working as an ear, nose and throat specialist at Boston City Hospital, Dr. Fitzgerald began experimenting with the idea of applying pressure to various areas of the feet, hands and ears to alleviate ailments affecting seemingly unrelated body parts. The exact method used to discover these correlations is unclear, though it seems the use of trial and error across multiple patients was utilized.


Although the specific body map that Dr. Fitzgerald created seems to differ very slightly depending on the source, the overall concept is unanimous. The Zone Theory divides the body into ten sections, with each foot containing five sections each. The reasoning behind dividing these ten sections equally amongst both feet lies in the notion that the right and left sides of the body correlate to the unilateral foot.


The Zone Theory offered a more uniform approach to reflexology than prior ideologies. Prior to Dr. Fitzgerald’s work, the points of correlation between certain organs and body structures were described as extremely specific points on the feet.


While this concept possesses somewhat of a crude organizational pattern as it relates to the body as a whole, these specific points are slightly scattered on either foot. The Zone theory depicts the interconnecting locations between the feet and body as uniform, vertical lines running superiorly from the soles of the feet to the head and shoulders. This concept provides a more user-friendly approach that allows reflexology treatment to identify the correct area of pressure more efficiently.


While Dr. Fitzgerald’s theory was met with a large amount of skepticism from colleagues and critics, the Zone Theory garnered enough testimony from patients and physicians utilizing this concept that the idea gained a foothold that still remains today.


Fitzgerald authored a book detailing his theory that enjoyed a high degree of success, being translated into at least seven languages. Using the Zone Theory as a foundational concept, several of his associates continued to build on Fitzgerald’s work and eventually put the finishing touches on this concept.


The pressure map discussed in this article admittedly lacks a tangible concept for its accuracy. These vertical lines cannot be manifested in any visible manner such as neural pathways or blood supply.


Despite the lack of concrete evidence, many individuals claim to receive reflexology treatment abiding by Fitzgerald’s map with remarkable benefits. Whether or not these experiences are caused by an undiscovered biological process or merely a placebo effect does not seem to concern patients nearly as much as the relief of their ailments.



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