The History of Massage - At a Stroke!
Massage has been an intrinsic part of human experience since the beginning of time. Throughout history, it has been used as a form of therapy and relaxation. The traditional Indian system of medicine known as Ayurveda, the most ancient form of healing, recognised the importance of massage thousands of years ago.
Similarly, a Chinese book from 2,700 BC, ‘The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine’, recommended ‘breathing exercises, massage of skin and flesh, and exercises of hands and feet’ as the best treatment for ‘complete paralysis, chills, and fever’.
The Ancient Egyptians regarded massage as a sacred art and taught it in temples. Greek and Roman physicians used it as one of the main methods of pain relief. Herodicus - the teacher of Hippocrates (the father of Western medicine) - made massage and exercise the cornerstone of medicine. Hippocrates used massage for the treatment and prevention of diseases. So did Galen (AD 150), the renowned physician and a major authority on traditional Western herbalism.
The Romans embraced massage with gusto, revelling in the pampering experience of full-body massages with aromatic oils. Records show that Julius Caesar received a daily massage to treat neuralgia.
However, after the fall of the Roman Empire, the Western world took a more puritanical view of life and massage began to be perceived as a sinful, indulgent experience. The use of massage, both as a form of relaxation and treatment, was limited. The situation stayed this way for centuries and it was only in the early 19th century that it underwent a revival. Doctors, eminent surgeons, cardiologists and the like performed massage for its calming and therapeutic effects.
A Swedish doctor, poet, and educator named Per Henrik Ling developed a style of massage based on gymnastics and physiology and techniques borrowed from China, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Ling's massage style was enthusiastically adopted throughout Europe and became known as “Swedish Massage”.
A small group of female medical professionals formed the Society of Trained Masseurs in the late 19th century in London. Today this society is known around the world as the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.
In the early part of the 20th Century, the medical use of massage began to diminish with the evolution of pharmaceutical, surgical and technological medicine. By the 1950s, it was considered too time intensive for doctors to perform and instead done by aides.
But during the 1960s while the medical world was focusing increasingly on breakthroughs in technology and pharmacology, people became more interested in holistic health and self-improvement, and the interest in massage began to resurface. This trend has continued and over the past 40 years, there has been a massive growth in the varieties of bodywork treatments.
Today, more people are recognising the therapeutic value of massage, both as a preventative treatment and as an alternative therapy. It is also recognised as being of great benefit to the sick. It is now used in intensive care units, for children, elderly people, babies in incubators, and patients with cancer, AIDS, heart attacks, or strokes. Many hospices have some kind of bodywork therapy available, and it is frequently offered in health centres, drug treatment clinics, and pain clinics.