History of the foot massage

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

Recorded according the Indian tradition 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 Narajanah, the main deity of the hierarchy of the ancient world concept, whose feet are massaged by his everlasting spouse, Laksmí.

The ancient Egypt has also proved evidences 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 Internal Medicine Book of the Yellow Emperor – dated in the 1st century BC – mentions six meridians located on the leg. This volume detailedly describes 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.

Remarkable roles were played in introducing the foot massage and especially its medical application: reflexology or zone therapy to Hungary by, among others: Rev. Lajos Szabó, Dr. Andor Oláh, Judit Bánszky, Dr. József Tamasi, Dr. János Mótusz, Dr. Jolanda Palágyi, Antal Zolnay, Dr. Erzsébet Csikai and Anna Nagyné Halász.

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