History of Massage Therapy

Yellow Emperor'sMassage therapy is a form of natural healing that has been utilized by cultures around the world for thousands of years.  Sometime around 2700 BCE, “The Yellow Emperor’s Classic Book of Internal Medicine” was written in China.  This is the first known Chinese text, and it shows many ways massage was used to heal various ailments.  This textbook is still used as a resource today for training massage therapists because it was developed by a combination of physicians, monks, and practitioners of martial arts who all believed that touch, pressure points, and relaxation are vital for people’s health.  Around the same time in India, seers and natural scientists began perfecting a system of healing using massage.  Egypt also began using forms of massage and reflexology (according to the tomb paintings found by archeologists), where the practitioner applies pressure to specific pressure points and reflex zones, in about the same time frame.

Massage therapy and types of healing that are similar to it began with the belief that the body’s energy and meridians must all be balanced.  These meridians represent the body’s physiological systems, and massage allows the energy to move freely through the body and create a nature balance and allow the body to heal itself naturally.  Rather than fixing the symptom, they were now treating the cause of many ailments.

About 1000 years later in 1000 BCE, Japan branched off of massage therapy techniques in other parts of the world and created Shiatsu, which is geared toward raising the energy level and helping the body’s organs and immune system better function.  Utilizing similar techniques to those that were being used in other parts of the world, Japan began using massageShiatsu to heal the patient’s body and emotions.

Around 800 to 700 BCE, Greece and Rome started massage as a form of therapy for sports medicine and athletes.  To keep their athletes healthy and away from injury, and combined with herbs and oils, women also used massage as a beauty regimen for healthy skin.  Hippocrates supported these treatments and promoted massage combined with exercise and healthy eating as the ideal way to stay healthy in body and mind.  Rome mostly reserved massage therapy for the wealthy, who used personal massage therapists in their homes, but they also provided massages for those in community baths.

Massage then came to Europe in the 17th to 19th centuries.  where the Swedish massage was invented.  Massage faced a large decline due to the development of modern medicine and pharmaceuticals, but around the 17th century, Swedish physician Per Henrik Ling created the Swedish Gymnastic Movement System, which uses medical gymnastics and physiology to treat physical ailments.  Today the Swedish massage and the Shiatsu massages are the two most popular massage techniques in the United States, where massage finally emerged to help treat patients during World War I suffering from shell shock and nerve injury.  It is growing as an industry today, and more and more individuals are seeing its benefit and proven healing techniques in treating the cause and not just the symptoms.

 If you want to see how massage can benefit you, contact me at Strongsville Massage, where many different types of massage are utilized to treat ailments.

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