The history of foot massage

Proven by Asian, African, European and North American evidence, foot massage has been known in many cultures.

It is recorded in Indian tradition of five thousand years ago, foot massage can be read about in the vedic literature, where it is widely mentioned as a part of the relationship between guru and follower, man and wife, or friends – starting with Narayana, the main deity of the hierarchy of the ancient world concept, whose feet are massaged by his everlasting consort, Laksmi.

The ancient Egypt also provides evidence from 2,500 BC. The tomb of Ankhmahor the physician was found in Saqqarah, the burial place of the pharaohs. The drawings on the wall of the tomb are regarded by many as the most ancient reflexological depiction.

The Chinese work titled The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine – dated in the 1st century BC – mentions six meridians located on the leg. This volume describes in detail various massage techniques as well. 

In its heyday between 300 and 700 AD, the American Indian culture also attached a great importance to foot massage, as the reflex therapy was used for both diagnostic and healing purposes. 

As to our knowledge, the first book on the topic in Europe was published by Dr. Adamus and Dr. Atatis in 1582. By then, the technique of foot massage had been widely practiced in numerous European countries. 

In foot massage the foot massage in the West in the modern age, the observations of Dr. William H. Fitzgerald on American Indian healing practices played a significant role, as they pointed out that native Americans sometimes treated diseases not by directly healing the ill organ, but impacted on it by massaging other points of the body. Dr. Fitzgerald divided the human body into vertical and horizontal zones, and made a connection between the organs located on each zone with particular areas of the hand and leg. He described his theory in a book titled Zone Therapy, and published it together with Edwin F. Bower in 1917. 

Fitzgerald’s life work opened a new chapter in the modern history of the foot massage, as it woke up the interest of many physicians and healthcare workers, who afterwards became followers, practisers, formers and teachers of the foot massage and in a wider sense, reflex zone therapy. 


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