The Rwo Shur and The Ingham method

In many parts of Asia, including Taiwan, China and Singapore, the Rwo Shur method of reflexology is practised. This can be quite painful to receive because it involves a combination of thumb-sliding and pressure techniques, incorporating the knuckles and sometimes small wooden sticks. The pressure is very firm and the therapist uses a cream rather than a powder; this allows for a fast, efficient and flowing motion. You can normally expect a session to last for about 30 minutes, with the focus being on revitalization rather than relaxation. The Rwo Shur method was developed in Taiwan by Father Joseph Eugster, a Swiss missionary. Having experienced the benefits of reflexology himself, he saw the potential to help thousands of needy people and began to treat and then train others in reflexology.

This technique forms the basis for the way in which most reflexology is practised around the world today. It was pioneered and developed in America in the early 1930s by the late Eunice Ingham, who is considered by most to be the 'mother of reflexology'. She made the feet specific targets for reflexology because they are particularly sensitive, and developed maps of the entire body on the feet (see pages 40-49), based on her research in the practice of reflexology. She also developed a method of using the thumbs and fingers known as the Ingham compression technique. In this method, pressure is applied by 'thumbwalking', in which the thumb or finger bends and straightens while maintaining constant pressure across the area of the foot that is being worked.

The Ingham method 

Eunice Ingham introduced her work to the non-medical community because she realized how reflexology could help the general public. Her techniques were simple to apply, and people could learn how to use reflexology to help themselves, their family and friends. She wrote two books on reflexology, Stories the Feet Can Tell (1938) and Stories the Feet Have Told (1963) A reflexologist practising the Ingham method uses powder rather than cream, and a session generally lasts for about 60 minutes, although this depends on the health of the client. The focus is on relaxation and balancing the body systems, and the therapist works with a pressure that is constantly adiusted in order to avoid discomfort.

The session is holistic, with the reflexologist considering the impact that the client's lifestyle has on their health. He or she will adiust the treatment sequence to suit each person, and although all the reflexes ore worked, some are emphasized a little more than others. Powder, towels and water should be laid out in readiness before the client arrives and treatment begins.