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Reflexology Certification

Approved for 8 Online Continuing Education Units/Credits (CEU's) for Pennsylvania Licensed Massage Therapists

Receive Your 8 CEU's Now

Approved for 8 Online CEU's for Pennsylvania Licensed Massage Therapists. Cost $100.00 / Certificates Awarded Upon Completion.

Please allow time for your purchase to process. We will contact you via email with instructions to access the online course as soon as your payment is complete. Please make sure your email address is correct. Thank you for your patience. 


Reflexology is a method for activating the healing powers of the body through stimulation of reflexes on the feet, hands, face, and outer ears. The American Reflexology Certification Board states, “Reflexology is a noninvasive, complementary practice involving thumb and finger techniques to apply alternating pressure to reflexes shown on reflex maps of the body located on the feet, hands, and outer ears.” Many reflexologists also include face reflexology in their protocols. In this chapter the focus is on foot reflexology. By skillful application of various reflexology techniques to specific reflex areas and points, the reflexologist supports the body by enhancing holistic functioning and balance within its various systems.

Touch is intimate. When we touch another person something happens between us. The unique quality of touch experienced through reflexology allows this intimacy to develop and expand in a safe and powerful way. Whether it is between practitioner and client, friends, parent and child, or intimate partners, the healing touch of reflexology creates a bond: between giver and receiver, among the body systems, between the body and its environment, and even between the person and his or her higher Self. These effects go well beyond the immediacy of the session. When we feel calm, balanced, vital, and refreshed we can also be a positive influence in our other relationships.

Reflexology is both a science and an art. As a science, it requires careful study, faithful practice, a sound knowledge of the techniques, and skillful application of those techniques. As a healing art, reflexology yields the best results when the reflexologist works with dedication, patience, focused intentions, and, above all, loving care.1

Contemporary reflexology is about working with more than just the feet and its reflex points. Today, the practice of reflexology also encompasses the whole person—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

From a scientific point of view, reflexology considers the feet to be minimaps of the human body. These maps relate each organ, gland, and part of the body (Figure 14-1) to its corresponding reflex areas and points on the feet. By targeting a specific area or point, reflexology encourages relief to the corresponding part of the body.

Reflexology is both old and new. From ancient texts, illustrations, and artifacts, we know that various cultures, including the early Chinese, Japanese, and Egyptians, worked on the feet to promote good health. Discovered in Egypt, a pictograph from the Physician’s Tomb (c. 2300 bc) may be some of the earliest evidence of the application of reflexology (Figure 14-2).

FIGURE 14-2 ​Physician’s Tomb pictograph. (From Norman L: Feet first: a guide to foot reflexology, New York, 1988, Simon & Schuster.)

The application of healing pressure to the feet has been practiced by North American Native Americans for generations. One theory claims that this form of reflex therapy was passed down to them by the Incas.

Jenny Wallace, a Cherokee Indian from the Bear Clan, practices as a foot therapist in America today. According to her, “In my tribe, working on the feet is a very important healing art and is part of a sacred ceremony that you don’t have to be ill to take part in. The feet walk upon the earth and through this your spirit is connected to the universe. Our feet are our contact with the earth and the energies that flow through it.”1

The desire to unravel the mysteries of the human body links the ancient with modern civilization. The first recorded scientific reference to reflexology—in 1890—was by British research scientist and medical doctor Sir Henry Head. He demonstrated that a neurologic relationship exists between the skin and the internal organs.

Winner of the Nobel Prize in Medicine, Sir Charles Sherrington proved that the entire nervous system and body adjust to a stimulus when it is applied to any part of the body. Around the same time in Germany, Dr. Alfons Cornelius observed that application of pressure to certain spots on the body triggered muscle contractions, changes in blood pressure, and variation in warmth and moisture in the body, and also directly affected the “psychic processes,” or mental state of the individual. Russians scientists, beginning with Drs. Ivan Pavlov and Vladimir Bekhterev, believed that there were zones within the brain and that each of these zones had a specific function. Together they explored reflex responses in the body for nearly a century.2

In 1917 Dr. William Fitzgerald, an American, published Zone Therapy, or Relieving Pain at Home. In it he described his success in relieving pain through the use of various devices on the hands and fingers. A reporter wrote an article detailing the events at a dinner party where Dr. Fitzgerald demonstrated his theories. The party was attended by a well-known concert singer who had announced that the upper register tones of her voice had gone flat. Throat specialists had been unable to discover the cause of this affliction. Dr. Fitzgerald, according to the newspaper article, asked to examine the fingers and toes of the singer. After his examination, he told her that the cause of the loss of her upper tones was a callus on her right great toe. After pressure was applied to the corresponding part in the same zone for a few minutes, the patient remarked that the pain in her toe had disappeared, “whereupon the doctor asked her to try the tones of the upper register. Miraculously, it seemed to us, the singer reached two notes higher than she had ever sung before.”3

Dr. Fitzgerald’s zone therapy intrigued one physician, Dr. Joseph Riley, who discussed it with his staff therapist, Eunice Ingham. Ingham began to use zone therapy in her work with patients. She reasoned that since the zones ran throughout the body and could be accessed anywhere, some areas might be more accessible and effective than others.

Ingham discovered that the feet provided the most responsive areas for working the zones because they were extremely sensitive. She eventually mapped the entire body onto the feet and discovered that applying an alternating pressure 262on the various points had therapeutic effects far beyond the previously limited use of zone therapy for pain reduction. And so modern reflexology was born.

In 1991 the first scientific research study examining the efficacy of reflexology began. The study applied strict scientific protocols to evaluate the effect of reflexology on premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Under the direction of the American Academy of Reflexology and Bill Flocco, the study showed a statistically significant reduction in PMS symptoms beyond what could be attributed to chance or the placebo effect. This reflexology study, which appeared in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, has the distinction of being the first to be published in a scientific peer-reviewed medical journal.

Thanks to the dedicated passion of Eunice Ingham and those who followed in her path, reflexology continued to grow throughout the United States and has achieved worldwide acceptance today. In China, reflexology is accepted by the central government as a means of preventing and facilitating healing of diseases as well as preserving health. In over 300 research studies encompassing over 18,000 cases involving 64 different illnesses, the Chinese have demonstrated that reflexology provides measurable levels of improvement 95% of the time.

In Japan and Denmark, reflexology has been incorporated into the employee health programs of several large corporations, saving each company many thousands of dollars annually in paid sick leave benefits. In Thailand and India, foot reflexology clinics abound, with high concentrations in tourist areas. According to statistics from the Reflexology Association of Canada, Thailand leads the world in demand for reflexology, with about 65% of its population using reflexology in one form or another each year.4

During the 1970s, I broke new ground in educating the public about reflexology. I popularized reflexology through national and international media, including TV, radio, magazines, and newspapers, and through numerous speaking engagements. In 1988 I published what has become a best-selling book available in several languages worldwide, Feet First: a Guide to Foot Reflexology and created instructional videos both for my students and for people to use at home. In 1997 the International Council of Reflexologists, at their biennial conference in London, honored me as the reflexologist most responsible for expanding awareness of the benefits and values of reflexology throughout the United States and around the world.

Let me remind you that reflexology is a means of equalizing the circulation. We all know circulation is life. Stagnation is death. Everything around us that is alive is in motion, nothing stands still. Our vitality is either increasing or decreasing according to the quality and circulation of our bloodstream.9

To those such as Eunice Ingham and others who dedicated their lives to the study and promotion of reflexology, we owe a great debt. Through their work, millions of people across the globe can enjoy the outstanding health benefits of this modality.


• is a science and an art that is based on the principle that there are reflex areas and points in the feet and hands that correspond to each organ, gland, and part of the body;

• connects individuals through the intimate act of touch on the hands, feet, face, and ears;

• saves clients time and avoids self-consciousness about getting undressed;

• removes inorganic waste material such as uric acid and other deposits that can build up in the bottoms of the feet;

• reduces stress and tension, allowing the miles of cardiovascular vessels to conduct the blood naturally and easily;

• relaxes and opens up energy pathways, so the body is revitalized and energy is supplied on all levels;

• works through the nervous system and subtle energy pathways to improve the function of organs and glands, and all systems of the body.

For those who wish to pursue the practice of reflexology, this chapter has provided a glimpse into its history, benefits, contraindications, and techniques, in addition to the personal satisfaction and health benefits it carries for the practitioner. My hope is that you will join us in our passion and pursuit to bring about a healthier, happier world.

See this technique in practice

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Receive Your 8 CEU's Now

Approved for 8 Online CEU's for Pennsylvania Licensed Massage Therapists. Cost $100.00 / Certificates Awarded Upon Completion.

Please allow time for your purchase to process. We will contact you via email with instructions to access the online course as soon as your payment is complete. Please make sure your email address is correct. Thank you for your patience.