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The Ingham Method® is a common form of reflexology that is practiced around the world. Reflexology is a way of stimulating reflex areas, or parts of the body where nerve endings are bundled, most popularly the hands, feet or ears. The practice of reflexology involves applying pressure to these reflex areas using thumbs and fingers and it is used to improve blood supply, reduce nervousness, stress and tension and help patients relax.
No one knows exactly when reflexology was invented, but the technique is believed to date back to Egyptian civilizations. The Ingham Method® is named after Eunice D. Ingham, a physical therapist and masseuse who developed the concept during the early 1930s. According to historic accounts, she refined the method over the course of treating hundreds of patients and mapping out reflex points in the foot in the process.
She concluded that foot reflex points were an exact mirror image of the placement of organs and glands in the body. The idea then, is that by pressing on reflex areas on the bottom of the feet with their thumbs, practitioners can stimulate the nervous system, determine the root cause of pain and relieve tension. The extent of pressure is adjusted based on each patient’s tolerance or pressure sensations. There are no known side effects.
Reflexologists, massage therapists or other practitioners of the Ingham Method® only use their hands, no gadgets, and promote the technique as holistic, natural and safe. The International Institute of Reflexology® in Florida says the purpose of reflexology is not to replace conventional medical treatment, but to promote better health and well-being. The institute was founded by Eunice Ingham’s nephew, Dwight Byers, and it offers certification training on the Ingham Method® and reflexologist referrals.
The Ingham Method® and other forms of reflexology are not universally accepted in the medical community. Many considered it a non-scientific practice. Some view it as useless in the course of treating illnesses or disease and dismiss it as a foot massage that puts you on the hook for about $35 US Dollars (USD) to $100 USD per session. Typically, a session lasts 30 minutes to an hour.
Eunice Ingham published the book The Stories the Feet Can Tell in 1938, which was translated into seven foreign languages during subsequent years. She died in 1974 at the age of 85. Until the age of 80, she traveled the country going to workshops and book review, trying to sell the concept of the Ingham Method® to the public and potential practitioners such as naturopaths, osteopaths, massage therapists, nurses and physiotherapists.