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Brief history of massage therapy

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Massage therapy is well known as one of the oldest and most efficient techniques used to heal various conditions of the musculoskeletal system and induce a serene state to patients. The history of this type of treatment is wide and dates back thousands of years ago, being rooted in ancient Asian cultures. In spite of this, the first written records of massage therapy seem to have been found not only in China, but also in Egypt. Although initially scientists did not recognize its medical benefits, as time went by more and more specialized doctors started to acknowledge the positive effects massage has on people’s health. For this reason, nowadays it is an integrated part of almost any rehabilitation program (post traumatic or post operatory).

Brief history of massage therapy

The origins of massage therapy

The first written document where massage was mentioned as a common therapy is called “The Yellow Emperor’s Classic Book of Internal Medicine”. Even if this book is one of the most ancient works of the Eastern world, it was first translated and published in English in 1949. Taking into consideration that it includes many relevant details about the treatment, it has managed to become the main educational tool for those who are interested not only in massage therapy, but also in acupuncture or herbology. Since traditional tomb paintings in ancient Egypt
show the practice was used as part of medical system, it seems that the history of this treatment is also linked to Egypt. Given the long tradition of massage therapy and its multiple uses, the treatment is considered the basis of holistic medicine.

Massage therapy in Europe

The incredible treatment did not reach Europe until the early 1800s, when a skillful Swedish doctor, educator and gymnast named Per Henril Ling started to introduce it in his practice. The first form of the therapy is now known as “Swedish movement system”, because it included a series of movements and manipulation made by the practitioner. It is generally acknowledged that Ling was the one who introduced the treatment to Western countries; the one who defined it was actually Dutchman Johan Georg Mezger. This initial practice is considered to be the foundation of what is today known as Swedish relaxation massage. The treatment is recommended for a lot of affections and dysfunctions of the musculoskeletal system, being performed in plenty of clinics and medical institution, in most Western countries.

How is the massage industry evolving?

Taking into consideration the great benefits massage therapy has on the human body and its long tradition, it seems that its integration in the health system is in the initial phase. More and more medical clinics and leisure facilities have started to offer the service to their clients, who are eager to discover its multiple advantages. The industry has a huge potential, since the public demand has been in continuous growth in the past years. This is mostly due to the versatility of massage, which can be used as a cure and reliever for plenty of dysfunctions, from insomnia, to anxiety, sports injuries, arthritis and even surgery.

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