History of Modern Therapeutic Massage
In its simplest form massage is the external manipulation of
the structures of the body (such as skin, muscles, tendons, ligaments,
bones) with positive intentions of relaxation, psychological or
physical benefit to the recipient.
Massage is therefore thought
to be as old as humanity, or older - if one includes its use
by other animals before upright homosapiens evolved i.e. human evolution.
Ancient China and Asia
The earliest known history of massage is associated with Ancient
China, where healers used pressure techniques similar to those
practised in modern Acupressure and Shiatsu. Archeology has also
established the use of oils on the bodies of Asiatic women. Similarly,
various oils and creams believed to be for use on the body have
been excavated from Ancient Egyptian Tombs.
Ancient Europe (incl. Ancient Greece)
There is evidence of the evolution of massage in Europe over
the last 2500 years, from Ancient Greece to the modern era. Much
was written down during the 17th and 18th centuries when the terminology
increased significantly and there was much debate about pressure,
direction of motion, patient position, and so on.
Swedish practitioner Peter Henry Ling (also known as Per Henrik Ling, 1776-1839) is famous for founding the
'Swedish' system of massage which includes specific techniques
and associated terminology including the modern terms "effleurage"
and "petrissage". Unfortunately neither Ling nor his assistants and close associates left clear written accounts of their treatments at the time, so they were documented as well as possible by others, incl. Johan Georg Mezger (1838–1909), at a later date. It is believed that some of the greatest influences that shaped Dr Ling's work came from Tuina and Chinese martial arts. Many of the massage techniques used in modern "Swedish Massage" also form the basic techniques of tui na and Chinese massage.
Recognition of Therapeutic Massage
Massage did not become respectable or reputable until
the 19th century.
In 1894 a group of women formed "The Society of Trained
Masseuses", that eventually became "The Chartered Society
of Physiotherapy", which still exists today: www.csp.org.uk.
There are now many different types of massage, including:
To the main Massage Therapy page.