Zone Therapy

Zone Therapy

You may hear or see the term Zone Therapy occasionally. Zone therapy and Reflexology are very similar and Reflexology really evolved from Zone Therapy. Zone therapy or some form of it has been around for thousands of years. Hieroglyphic representations and ancient paintings exist in both India and Egypt that depict some form of Zone Therapy or foot massage.

The first mention of Zone Therapy techniques came from a nose and throat doctor at St. Francis Hospital in Hartford Connecticut. Dr. William H. FitzGerald created Zone Therapy and is generally known as the father of Reflexology. In the early 1900’s he practiced Zone Therapy techniques and applied them to many different ailments. One of his colleagues said of him:

I have known Dr. FitzGerald for many years. He is able and honest, a skillful and competent surgeon, and a student. No matter how foolish, how ridiculous his methods may seem, they are most decidedly not the vaporings of a dreamer or a charlatan. They are the calmly digested findings of a trained and scientific mind.

Dr. FitzGerald developed the theory that described the various meridians in the human body and how electrical energy flowed through them. A book was later published titled Zone Therapy or Relieving Pain at Home. It was written by Dr. FitzGerald and Dr. Edwin F. Bowers. This book is what gave Zone Therapy its name. The book was published in 1917 and is now in the public domain. You can read it here:

Zone Therapy or Relieving Pain at Home


Here is a photo of how pressure is applied to a finger.

Zone Therapy Hand

FitzGerald and Bowers utilized many different types of tools to apply pressure at different points on the body. Here is an electrode that was used apply pressure and current to meridian points.

Zone Therapy Wand

Another tool that was used was this clamp

Zone Therapy Clamp

Yet another method they used was to place clothes pins along the patients finger to apply pressure to different points.

Zone Therapy Clothes Pins


You can find quite a bit more information on Dr. William FitzGerald at the Reflexology Institute website.

In the 1930’s a woman named Eunice Ingham studied Zone Therapy under one of Dr. FitzGerald’s students. Ms. Ingham wrote a book on the subject in 1938 called Stories Feet Can Tell Thru Reflexology. She felt she was working with nerve reflexes in the feet and named the practice Reflexology. She also published a book titled Stories Feet Have Told Thru Reflexology.

Another doctor in Norway, Dr. Charles Ersdal, was apparently cured of a partial paralysis through Zone Therapy. Afterward, in the late 60’s and early 70’s, he began diligently researching the practice and documenting case studies and results. He called his practice Foot Zone Therapy and saw it as a “signal system” rather than a reflex system. So, while it is very similar to Reflexology it’s underlying assumptions vary somewhat. The practice was brought to the U.S. In the late 80’s and has become fairly popular.

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