Massage is the external manipulation of the structures
of the body (such as skin, muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones) with positive intentions of relaxation, or otheer psychological,
or physical benefit to the recipient.
History of Massage
In its simplest form, massage is as old humanity, or older
- if one includes it's use by other animals before upright
homosapiens evolved (note that human evolution is not universally accepted).
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
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 is famous for founding
the 'Swedish' system of massage which includes specific
techniques and associated terminology including the modern
terms "effleurage" and "petrissage". Massage did not become a respectable or reputable practice
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
What does a Massage Treatment involve?
A Massage Treatment usually begins with a consultation
during which the practitioner asks the client a series of
questions about how she is feeling and about her medical
history and any medical conditions she has. This is an opportunity
for the therapist to ensure that there are no reasons why
it would not be adviseable for her client to have a massage
that day (e.g. if feeling unwell, perhaps due to onset of
flu/measles/mumps/ etc.), and also if she should avoid or
concentrate on any particular parts of the body. This is also an opportunity for the client to ask any questions
he/she may have about Massage, make any requests, and understand
exactly what to expect of the treatment.
Assuming all is well, the massage therapist will then invite
the client to make him/herself comfortable on the therapeutic
couch. She might help the client onto the couch, if this
seems to be necessary/appropriate.
The actual massage will vary according to the reason for
the treatment and client preference. For example, a deeply
relaxing treatment may be requested immediately before bedtime,
or conversely a stimulating massage may be required prior
to warm-up for a sporting event.
Following the massage itself, the therapist may invite
the client to get up slowly when he/she feels ready to do
so. It is good practice for the therapist to ensure that
the client is sufficiently alert to drive home or move onto
their next task. The therapist might also invite feedback
about the treatment, answer any questions, and encourage
the client to drink a glass of water immediately afterwards.
Textbooks and other sources of information
There are many excellent texts to aid the study of those
intending to become professional massage therapists. The
"Mind, Body & Spirit", or "Holistic"
sections of most major bookshops also include a selection
of non-technical books written to guide interested lay people
who only wish to share an enjoyable skill with their partner
and/or friends and family.
Excellent texts are also available on the subject of massage
media (carrier oils and base creams) .
Further Information about Massage
Introductory massage courses are available from many local
colleges. For a personal introduction to this subject and
to meet like-minded people who have similar interests find
out what is available in your area.
* Massage Treatments in Oxfordshire