History Of Massage

Last Updated on

Origin Of Massage

Egyptian Massage Tecniques
Egyptian Murals depicting Massage Techniques

Healing with massage and touch has been practiced since man first walked the planet. Formal instruction in massage as a healing tool was given in many countries as early as 5000 years ago. At Saqqara, in Egypt, this is evident in wall paintings in some of the ancient tombs: one picture executed in 2330Bc depicts servants massaging the feet of a Pharaoh. In ancient Greece and Rome, physicians relied heavily on massage for the treatment and relief of pain. Julius Caesar, who suffered from neuralgia as a result of his epilepsy, was treated for severe headaches through the medium of massage.

Massage In The East

In China the massage method known as Tui na was used in 2000bc during the dynasty of the Yellow Emperor. Subsequently, it continued to develop alongside the ancient art of acupuncture. The history of Ayurveda, the ancient Indian traditional medicine system that uses massage extensively as a part of treatment, was recorded over 5000 years ago.

Ayurvedic Massage techniques

In Ayurvedic massage, which often forms part of a cleansing routine, the oils used are medicated or infused with various herbs. One method of application is to pour the oils onto the body while, or just before, massaging the body.

The Middle Ages And Massage

Between the years AD 980 and 1037, Arab philosopher and physician Avicenna (Abu Ali ibn Sina) kept a most valuable record of medicinal plants relating to physical manipulation and massage. He was also one of the pioneers in the production of essential oils by distillation.
In Europe, during the Middle Ages (5th-11th centuries) both clergy and state stifled developments in many fields including medicine, and many records were kept clandestinely.

There was a general scarcity of information, and records with regards to massage in particular were limited, since ‘matters of the flesh’ were considered taboo.

In the 18th century, surgery and allopathic medicine enjoyed increasing popularity, followed by the development of the manufacture of synthetic drugs. This in turn led to a situation where the public, and doctors in particular, became increasingly critical of natural methods of healing such as herbalism, massage, reflexology and other popular alternative therapeutic practices known today.

 Modern Massage As We Know It.

Therapeutic Healing Touch
Pehr Henrik Ling: The Founder Of Modern Massage Today

Massage began to return to favor when Pehr Hendrik Ling opened the Central Institute of Gymnastics in Stockholm in 1813. Ling used his understanding of gymnastics, anatomy and physiology together with the knowledge available from the Chinese, Greek and Egyptian systems to develop what is currently known as Swedish Massage.

Courses were run and it in fact became the first modern formalized method of massage technique teaching.
Subsequently, massage schools in the Western world have proliferated and many different types of massage are taught. It is interesting to note that in the East there are very few institutions offering formal training in massage alone,  massage is usually offered only as part of a course which deals with holistic medicine and therapy. In China there are facilities for traditional training in massage specially structured for blind women. They practice their massage strokes and finger exercises on bags of rice to strengthen their hands, a real challenge as it takes much time and willpower, not to mention the physical exertion that is required to crush the rice into a powder.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.