In this article I am going to took at the history of massage.
Many believe that the art of massage stems from the natural phenomenon of touch between human beings.
A mother’s instinct when her child falls and hurts themselves is to touch the area and rub it better.
Records at the British Museum show the Chinese were practising massage as early as 3000BC.
Indian Hindu’s practised massage as early as 3000 years ago and it is believed that the massage associated with the Hindu Religion originated from the Chinese.
Around the 17th Century BC Aesculapius a Greek priest/physician combined massage and exercise to create gymnastics to treat disease and promote health; he found his work so beneficial he abandoned all other forms of medicine. He was the first to record that sleep was induced by stroking.
It is recorded that at the 776 BC Olympic Games the Athletes were massaged prior to competition.
9th Centaury Greek poet Homer wrote of the war heroes being massaged to promote healing and relaxation.
Described as “the father of all medicine,” Hippocrates wrote “The physician must be experienced in many things but assuredly in rubbing”
The Romans were very enthusiastic on massage and acquired their techniques from the Greeks, believing in massage for the prevention of disease and treatment of stiff and sore muscles.
Celsus, a Roman Physician wrote of “rubbing the head to relieve headaches and rubbing muscles to relieve paralysis, he followed Hippocrates’ teachings.
With the decline of the Roman Empire, Constantine abolished the baths and gymnasiums having converted to Christianity.
Little is recorded during this period.
In the West, massage was practised sporadically by lay people. However these people became the focus of persecution, being accused of being witches and performing magic or performing the Devil’s work.
Yet in the Eastern Countries the growth of massage developed uninterrupted and Indian Head Massage is still passed down through the generations to this day.
During the Renaissance Period (1450-1600) Interest in the writings of the Greek and Roman physicians was revived and Ambroise Pare one of the founders of modern surgery raised the awareness of massage again via the medical community.
English French German and Italian authors published work on Massage, being taught in medical school based on the sciences of Anatomy, Physiology and Pathology.
Per Henril Ling a Swedish Physiologist, fencing master and gymnastics teacher began to study massage and medical gymnastics combining the two sciences. This became known as the “Ling System” or “Swedish Movement Treatment”
This method spread through Europe and Russia via Ling’s students and his teaching.
People travelled from France and Germany to receive the massage treatment.
The treatment consisted of drinking mineral water, mineral baths, graduated exercise and massage, this reflected holistic care.
Mathias Roth was an English Physician and a pupil of Lang who published the first English book on Swedish Massage Movements in 1851
The Dutch doctor Johann Mezger established the practice of massage as a scientific subject for remedial treatment of disease.
The German physician Albert J Hoffa published Technik Der Massage in 1900, which contained many of the techniques and procedures that we make use of in massage today.