Often confused with Chinese Acupressure, reflexology—the use of pressure on parts of the foot to help problems elsewhere in the body—has predecessors that date back to ancient Egypt. However, modern reflexology is directly related to Zone Therapy, created by Dr. William Fitzgerald in the 19th century. If you draw parallel vertical lines down the length of the body following certain rules, you form vertical zones. Problems in a zone can be alleviated by pressure on the foot, especially the sole, in that zone.
The term “reflexology” was coined by the Russian doctor Vladimir Bekterev in 1917. Although practiced and supported in the US (Ms. Eunice Ingham traveled the country practicing the technique and wrote a book on it in 1945 with an expurgated version appearing in 1954), it really gained popularity in 1970 with the publication of Mildred Carter’s Helping Yourself with Foot Reflexology. The publisher won a legal battle with the US government, who claimed the book was the practice of medicine without a license.