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Foot Zone Therapy, Stepping Beyond Reflexology

If you’ve ever wondered whether foot zone therapy and reflexology are the same, the very short answer is no. We invite you to discover the far more interesting and complete answer by stepping back a few decades and across continents!

Becoming “Reflexology”

Before “reflexology” became a word, several European and Nordic countries used a variety of words to describe the practice of triggering various acupressure points to reduce pain and other symptoms of body dis-ease. Most commonly used words today are foot zone therapy and reflexology. 

The popular name for this practice in the United States was devised by Eunice Ingham: “reflexology.” Ingham (1889-1974), was the American pioneer of zone therapy. She was trained by a chiropractor, Dr. Joseph Riley of Washington, and then worked with him as a physiotherapist. Ingham studied intensely to learn more about acupressure points, and soon devoted her life to the practice of what she termed, “reflexology.” She chose this term to avoid trouble with the medical field, aware that using the word, “therapy” would imply being a healer. Eunice Ingham, the “Mother of Reflexology,” became well-known and widely appreciated and therefore popularized the name “reflexology” — essentially replacing the name “zone therapy,” such that it became an unknown term in the United States. Ingham also greatly advanced the practice throughout the United States.

Also Read: Foot Zone Definition For Scope of Practice

Beyond Reflexology

foot prints

Again, foot-zone titles from various countries, including “reflexology,” are used to describe the same practice of stimulating acupressure points to provide symptomatic relief.  What exactly does this entail? As an example, in response to the symptom of a headache, reflexology activates pressure points located in the big toe, which sends signals to the head to make adjustments that release a headache. That’s wonderful, and sending these signals to the head may relieve pain temporarily. But what if a headache (symptom) is caused by a problem located in an area other than the head?

Dr. Charles Ersdal, the “Father of Foot Zone Therapy,” was trained in sonotherapi, and he eventually asked a similar question when he saw that some sonotherapi patients responded well to symptomatic relief, while others who experienced the same symptom, did not. What if the same symptom (a headache) was being caused by muscle tension, or stress, or one’s menstrual cycle?

Dr. Ersdal’s answer came in a moment of inspiration, in which he envisioned an outstretched human body with the word, “ENTIRETY,” written across it. He immediately realized that he needed to turn his focus away from just the symptom of any illness and instead engage in stimulating all of the acupressure points throughout the body so that the cause wherever its location would be triggered into optimal health.

Also Read: Foot Zone Professional Titles — Are You Confused?

The Resurrection of “Foot Zone Therapy” – Dr. Charles Ersdal’s Method

The modern method of zone therapy known in the United States today is the “Ersdal Method.” This method addresses the various causes of conditions, rather than merely focusing on symptoms, by stimulating all acupressure points found on the feet. Thus, for example, the symptom of a headache can have numerous causes, including:

  • cerebral spinal fluid pressure of the brain or spinal cord
  • sinus headache or infection
  • eye pressure
  • cranial bone misalignments
  • structural pressure
  • muscle tension
  • stress
  • TMJ Syndrome  (Trigeminal Mandibular Joint misalignment)
  • gastrointestinal issues
  • menstrual cycle
  • blood pressure

. . . and more!

None of these causes of headache symptoms have signals in just the big toe (where many of the signals for the head are located) but are found in other places on the feet. In fact, several other acupressure signals are found in many systems (other than the neurological, or head), that would need stimulation to relieve all types of headaches, including:

  • ventricular system
  • superior and sagittal sinus
  • cerebral spinal fluid of the spinal cord
  • cranial bones
  • superficial and deep muscles of the neck, shoulders, chest, and back
  • solar and celiac plexus
  • adrenals
  • hypothalamus and pituitary
  • ovaries
  • uterus
  • kidneys
  • circulatory systems

The “Bathroom Leak” Analogy

We can use the analogy of a bathroom leak to more clearly explain the importance of Dr. Ersdal’s inspiration and his founding of modern foot zone therapy. A leak in the bathroom can be wiped up easily enough, completely removing all water, focusing on the symptom of the leak. This is very similar to the work of reflexology: eliminating the symptom. But without repairing the cause of the leak — which could be the sink, the shower, toilet or pipes — the symptom will surely return. Getting to the cause of all the water leaks in the bathroom is much like modern foot zone therapy. Acupressure to the entire body stimulates all the body’s systems, thus impacting the cause of the symptom, wherever it exists.  

Rather than the short-term effect of relieving a symptom, foot zone therapy awakens the innate blueprint of wholeness within the body so the body can locate the cause(s) and start to repair and heal itself. Dr. Ersdal’s method takes away the need to diagnose and it eliminates guesswork; by triggering everything, all systems “communicate” with each other to maintain homeostasis or optimal health.

Creating Premium Foot Zone Class  Materials for You

Amber Jensen, co-owner of Wellness Life Zone (WLZ), was personally trained and certified by Dr. Ersdal. WLZ teaches this foundational practice of Dr. Ersdal’s method while advancing this technique even further with their recent discoveries of over 100 new signals for the human anatomy found on the feet.

Wellness Life Zone, Foot Zone Academy has created unprecedented, state-of-the-art foot zone therapy charts and training materials including anatomy and physiology curriculum, unlike any materials that are available in this industry worldwide. These are used to provide students with the most comprehensive understanding of foot zone therapy possible. Whether you are interested in self-care or in pursuing a career as a practitioner, be assured that Wellness Life Zone will take you well beyond reflexology and into the comprehensive practice of foot zone therapy for optimal health.

Article by:

Amber Jensen

Co-Owner of Wellness Life Zone, Foot Zone Academy



To find a highly skilled and qualified foot zone practitioner near you, visit the directory at wellnesslifezone.com.

Some common foot zone titles for certified foot zone practitioners today are as follows:

·       Certified by Dr. Ersdal (father of foot zone therapy) – Foot Zone Therapist

·       Certified by Wellness Life Zone, Foot Zone Academy – Foot Zone Practitioner

·       Certified by Nordblom Institute – Foot Zonologist, or Zonologist (trademark)

·       Other commonly used nick names for some practitioners or a hobbiest – footzoner, foot zoner, or zoner