The History of Massage Therapy
Throughout time, massage therapy has been used for the same purpose: to relieve pain and promote relaxation. It has long been recognized all over the world as a beneficial healing practice. Though massage therapy was once considered an expendable luxury, it has reemerged as a vital way to improve health and wellness.
Origins of massage
Massage therapy is thought to have originated around 3000 BC. Various forms of massage were present in many ancient cultures, including India, China, and Egypt. Some of these early forms of massage therapy were used for relaxation, but many were for healing.
In China, massage was used to help spread the body’s healing energies. This form of massage was brought to Japan, where it evolved into what we know today as Shiatsu massage.
By 700 BC, warriors and athletes in ancient Greece began to use massage therapy to improve performance in battles and sporting events—the first instance of sports massage therapy.
Massage—unfashionable for a while,
but now extremely popular
Though massage therapy was very popular in Eastern cultures, it did not become known in the Western world until the 17th century. Western cultures, including America and much of Europe, emphasized extreme modesty; it was seen as highly inappropriate to be touched by or to touch a stranger. Eventually, doctors in America and Europe began using massage therapy to help heal their patients, and it was soon accepted as a beneficial practice.
The modern practice of Swedish massage was developed by Swedish physician Per Henrik Ling in the early 1800s.
Wounded soldiers returning from World War I were treated with massage therapy to help them cope with nerve injury and emotional trauma.
Still, massage wasn’t accepted by mainstream culture until later in the 20th century. It often held the stigma of being reserved for the rich, or, even worse, of being associated with the sex industry (which, of course, is not true).
The social upheaval and recurrent interest in natural healing during the 1960s helped bring massage therapy to the attention of the general population. Throughout the latter half of the 20th century, the popularity of massage therapy continued to grow, and many state governments started regulating the practice. Licensing and educational standards followed, which helped to make massage therapy a respected, credible form of natural healing.
Today, therapists are widely available to help people with all sorts of problems, treating everything from physical injury to stress.