Friday, 20 December 2013

Massage: A very brief history

Massage could claim to be the oldest and simplest form of healthcare. In Eygpt paintings in the tomb of Akmanthor (Tomb of the Physician) dating 2330 BC show two figures having feet and hands massaged. In China, a medical text dated 700-450 BC called the Nei Jing or The Yellow Emperors Inner Classic recommended massage of the skin and flesh. In the Tang Dynasty (619 - 907 AD), it's recorded that there were 56 massage (Tui-Na) doctors in the Chinese Imperial Hospital; that's more than the total number of herbalists and acupuncturists added.


Indian Ayurveda medicine incorporated massage techniques; Egyptian tomb paintings show people being massaged; both Greek and Roman physicians used hands-on massage and manipulation techniques extensively and ever since the Ancient Olympic Games began in 776 BC athletes have been massaged before and after events. Massage has played a major role in health systems from cultures around the world for hundreds, if not, thousands of years. In 460 BC, Hippocrates wrote "The physician must be experienced in many things, but assuredly in rubbing."

Many different forms of massage have been developed over time, each with their own distinct style, flavour, strokes, techniques and underlying theories. From very light touch, rocking, pulling, pushing, gentle compression and shaking to flowing compressive strokes, very deep pressure, stretching, twisting and mobilisations. In actual fact the Chinese word for massage Tui-Na translates as Push-Pull or Push-Grasp.

Massage has endured for so many years primarily because it feels good. Caring, attentive touch from another human being has huge health benefits both physically and neurologically. Science is only starting to really understanding the many difference aspects and benefits we receive from touch interaction with other people.