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Massage - History of Massage

By:   |   Jul 08, 2018   |   Views: 17   |   Comments: 0

Historical records prove that massage is the oldest form of physical medicine known to humans. The origin of the word 'massage', however, is very unclear. It has been suggested that it may have come from the Arabic word mash, which means 'to press softly'. Another theory is that it derives from the Greek word massein meaning 'to knead'. It may owe its derivation to the French word masser meaning 'to shampoo'.

In China the oldest recorded medical text the Nei Ching, written by the Yellow Emperor, includes numerous references to the use of massage for healing purposes. Evidence also comes from Egypt where foot and hand massage is depicted on a wall painting on the physician's tomb in Saqqara dating back to 2330 BC. The traditional Indian system of medicine known as Ayurveda (Ayur = life, veda = knowledge) dating back thousands of years refers to the importance of massage.

There is much evidence that massage was strongly advocated by the Greek and Roman physicians. Socrates, Plato and Heroditus all extolled the virtues of massage. The Greeks and Romans knew about the anatomy and physiology of the human body, and indeed the majority of anatomical terms currently in use are of Greek or Roman origin. In the early fifth century BC the Greek physician Hippocrates, known as the 'father of medicine' wrote that 'rubbing can bind a joint that is too loose and loosen a joint that is too rigid ... hard rubbing binds, much rubbing causes parts to waste and moderate rubbing makes them grow'. The Greek physician Asclepiades combined massage and exercise in his treatments. Pliny, who was a renowned Roman naturalist was regularly massaged to alleviate his asthma. Galen, the Roman Emperor's physician, prescribed massage for the injured gladiators and for preparation for combat in the arenas. Celcus, another Roman physician, advocated massage for pain relief and strengthening limbs. He wrote that 'chronic pains in the head are relieved by rubbing the head itself' and 'a paralyzed limb is strengthened by rubbing'. Julius Caesar, who suffered from neuralgia, was treated daily for this condition and for headaches. After the fall of the Roman Empire little evidence is documented until the Middle Ages. Unfortunately massage suffered at this time as the Church held contempt for the 'pleasures of the body'. Fortunately it reemerged after the Renaissance. Physicians like the French doctor Ambrose Pare contributed to its reestablishment in the medical world. Massage was considered to be an important part of medicine.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century the Swedish professor, Per Henrik Ling (1776-1839), developed his technique known as 'Swedish Massage'. He established an institute in Stockholm where massage and remedial gymnastics were taught and in 1877 Swedish massage was introduced to the United States by Dr Mitchell. In 1894, in Britain , The Society of Trained Masseuses was established. In 1934 this society changed its title to the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists. Unfortunately with the advent of various electrical treatments, the use of massage gradually began to disappear from the curriculum of the orthodox physiotherapy schools. Massage is less used by physiotherapists in hospitals today. Sadly, hospital physiotherapists simply do not have the time to spend half an hour with each patient - the minimum amount of time required for a massage treatment.

Nowadays massage is becoming increasingly popular and therapists work not only in their private practices and health and beauty clubs, but also in hospitals and hospices. They regard electro-therapy as complementary treatment to their massage work rather than as a supplement. Gradually the rather 'seedy' and sexual image of massage being practised in 'massage parlours' has been transformed. Massage therapists now work alongside the medical professionals and enjoy the respect that they deserve. A well-qualified therapist must undergo a thorough training in anatomy and physiology as well as in massage. Years of experience are then required to develop sensitivity and competency (see taking it further section for training establishments). However, even schools registered with a particular massage body have varied standards and, as usual, 'word-of-mouth' is the best recommendation.

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