Massage has been around for many years, dating back to 3000 BCE in India, where it was considered a sacred form of natural healing.
As culture and history evolved, the healing methods of massage traveled to China and Southeast Asia around 2700 BCE. Their methods were similar to those of the Indians, based on the belief that disease was caused by an imbalance or deficiency of energy in various pathways.
By 2500 BCE, massage therapy made its way to Egypt, where it was outlined in tomb paintings. The Egyptians are credited with discovering reflexology (more on that in a future blog post), which involves applying pressure to specific zones on the feet and hands to promote healing.
Later, monks studying Buddhism in China brought massage to Japan and put their own spin on it, calling it "anma," later known as Shiatsu.
The Egyptians influenced the Greeks and Romans who used massage therapy in different ways. In Greece, between 800 and 700 BCE, athletes used massage to conditions their bodies before competitions. Doctors often applied herbs and oils in combination with massage to treat various medical conditions.
Hippocrates, the "Father of Medicine" treated physical injuries in the 5th Century BCE with friction.
The popularity of massage declined in the West until the 17th Century, when new discoveries in pharmacology and medical technology changed modern medicine. However, many doctors could see the health benefits of massage therapy. That's when a Swedish doctor brought massage therapy out of retirement. In the 1800's, Swedish doctor Per Henrik Ling created a method that became known as the Swedish Movement Cure to help relieve chronic pain. It is what we now know as Swedish Massage - a style that involves stroking, pressing, squeezing, and striking.
19th Century Dutchman Johan George Mezgar is credited with incorporating techniques that are used today. Those techniques include: effleurage, petrissage, tapemotement, and friction.
The demand for massage increased in the early 1900's. By the 1930's, Swedish massage had evolved and the physiotherapists who used it in regular medicine helped massage therapy become a legitimate and respectable form of medicine.
Once physical therapy was licensed in the 1950's, massage therapy had its own category. The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) was established and laid groundwork for today's practitioners by establishing ethics and education standards.
Between 1970 and 2000, massage therapy experienced a transformation, as people chose to live healthier lifestyles and preferred a more holistic approach to healthcare, pain management, and restoring and maintaining healthy bodies. Today, many people realize that massage is good medicine.