Forms of reflexology have been practiced for centuries in the east, dating back to ancient China, where the peoples of the past upheld the significance of applying pressure to various zones or areas in the feet. The ancients who cultivated a therapy called acupressure (later to advance to acupuncture in China) realized early on that putting pressure on the feet released the life force, chi, or energy which was blocked within the human body. They also saw how different body organs and systems benefited from massaging these pressure points. Much of their focus was on the foot, where they believed massage could benefit the rest of the body.
Some modern day historians maintain that it was the ancient pharaohs of Egypt circa 2300 BC who actually practiced hand and foot massage. A diagram of the earliest rudimentary reflexology foot chart has been located on the tomb of Ankhmahor the overseer of the great house, vizier, and physician to the Pharaoh. There are several expert opinions of what these ancient carvings actually represented. Much attention was paid to the foot during this time in Egyptian history.
To the modern day reflexologist though the Pharaoh and other dignitaries of the society may have been transported about, the common slave or laborer walked far and wide and was constantly on his feet. These poor tender feet needed care. The tired sojourner or visitor to the society may very well have sought help from the countrys physicians. Therefore it is conceivable to say that physicians of the time were interested in foot therapy. Since hieroglyphics was the language of communication at the time, it makes sense that findings of the physicians on basic foot care would be represented in a reflexology foot chart. Some Egyptologists confirm that these ancient drawings do depict a reflexology foot chart of sorts. They have seen from the Egyptian court culture the drawings of servants massaging the legs of their Pharaohs on Ptah-hoteps tomb. There are also carvings of foot soldiers having their feet attended to during the time of Ramesses II.
We find evidence of the use of a reflexology foot chart in modern day North American culture dating back to 1913, when an ears, nose and throat physician and surgeon by the name of Dr. Fitzgerald, noticed that when he applied pressure to certain areas on the feet, different parts of the body seemed to response well to the touch. These findings lead him to develop the concept of zone therapy now known as reflexology and to develop a reflexology foot chart to aid in the explanation and teaching of this new founded discipline. The first reflexology foot chart that the good doctor designed was divided into 10 vertical areas which he called zones, each zone corresponded to a different area of the body which he had observed through his practice.
Since then reflexology foot charts have been in wide use as training tools for practitioners and laypeople alike.