The practice of Massage has been around for thousands of years. Writings of Massage have been discovered in many ancient civilizations who have been credited for shaping health care as we know it today. Including Rome,Greece, India, Japan and China.
Massage can be difficult to define , it is much easier to describe. As we now know it, Massage can be defined as “the manipulation of the soft tissues (muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and skin) and joints of the body to gain a therapeutic response, aid in the healing process, and promote relaxation and well-being,”
The Origin of the word “Massage” can be found in many ancient languages and cultures lending further credence to the fact that the practice of “Massage” was truly an original compenoent of health care.
The word comes from the French massage “friction of kneading”, or from Arabic massa meaning “to touch, feel or handle” or from Latin massa meaning “mass, dough”,the Greek verb μάσσω (massō) means”to handle, touch, to work with the hands, to knead dough”. In distinction the ancient Greek word for massage was anatripsis,and the Latin was frictio.
There has even been reference to Massage as early as 2000 BC. Most Notably in 460 BC by “The father of modern Medicine” Hippocrates who advocated the use of massage stating “The physician must be experienced in many things, but assuredly in rubbing” and 493BC from the biblical passage: Esther,2:12 which documents daily “treatments with oil of myrrh ”
Anyone who has experienced a Massage Therapy treatment knows the use of Oil is prevalent in any massage, however they may not know that in traditional Chinese medicine Myrrh is often recommended for rheumatic, arthritic and circulatory problems.
In 111CE The Yellow Emperor wrote a book called Huangdi Neijing which is considered the preeminent ancient Chinese medical text that is viewed as the fundamental doctrinal source for Chinese medicine for more than two thousand years recommended: “massage of skin and flesh”.
Massage was almost lost among western cultures until it was revived in the 16th century by French surgeon Ambroise Pare who was the great official royal surgeon for kings Henry II, Francis II, Charles IX and Henry III and is considered as one of the fathers of surgery and modern forensic pathology.
In the 17th century Per Henrick Ling a Swedish physical therapist was credited as developing “Swedish massage”. Modern terminology is credited to Dr. Johann Mezgera Dutch doctor who coined a reduced set of maneuvers and techniques of Dr. Ling’s system as the “Swedish massage” system.
These techniques Include: effleurage(long, gliding strokes), petrissage (lifting and kneading the muscles), friction (firm, deep, circular rubbing movements), tapotement (brisk tapping or percussive movements), and vibration (rapidly shaking or vibrating specific muscles).
These basic techniques became the fondation of Massage Therapy as we know it today.