The practice of using touch as a healing method derives from customs and techniques rooted in ancient history. Civilizations in the East and West found that natural healing and massage could remedy injuries, relieve pain, and prevent and cure illnesses. What’s more, it helped reduce stress and produce deep relaxation.
A bit of history
Massage Emerges in India
Started practicing massage in approximately 3,000 BCE (Before Common Era), possibly earlier.
Believed to be of divine origin and passed down orally through generations, Ayurveda is the traditional holistic medical system in India. Ancient seers and natural scientists developed this system based on centuries of studies, experiments and meditations.
Ayurveda views that individuals incur illnesses and diseases when they live out of harmony with their environment. To treat their conditions, individuals must restore their natural mental and physical balance by re-establishing harmony between themselves and the world around them. At that point, they can begin to heal naturally.
Massage Culture Appears in Egypt and China
Started practicing massage between 3000 and 2500 BCE
The earliest written records of massage therapy were discovered in Egypt and China. Tomb paintings in Egypt depict individuals being kneaded by others. Furthermore, Egyptians are credited with creating reflexology in approximately 2500 BCE. In China, texts documenting the medical benefits of massage therapy date back to approximately 2700 BCE. The Chinese tradition of massage therapy was developed from the combined expertise and methods of doctors in traditional Chinese medicine, practitioners of martial arts, Buddhists and Taoists who viewed touch as essential to their spiritual yoga training, and laymen who offered massages for relaxation.
Chinese massage methods originated from the principle that diseases and illnesses arise due to a deficiency or imbalance in the energy in specific pathways or meridians that represent physiological systems. Through massage and other specific bodywork techniques, energy will flow more harmoniously through these pathways, allowing the body to heal itself naturally.
Practitioners may complement massage treatments with herbal remedies, dietary therapy and exercise recommendations.
Monks Bring Massage Therapy to Japan
Started practicing massage in approximately 1000 BCE
Starting around 1000 BCE, Japanese monks studying Buddhism in China observed the healing methods of traditional Chinese medicine, including massage therapy. Japan soon began to import and customize Chinese massage techniques, giving rise to traditional Japanese massage or anma, which grew into Shiatsu.
Athletes and Philosophers Introduce Massage to Greece
Started practicing massage between 800 and 700 BCE
Derived from the Eastern philosophies and practices, massage progressed into Western civilization in approximately the eighth century BCE.
Athletes in Ancient Greece employed massage to keep their bodies in peak condition prior to competitions. Physicians of the time used herbs and oils in combination with massage techniques to treat many medical conditions. Greek women recognized the benefits of these aromatic oils and used them as beauty treatments on their skin.
In the fifth century BCE, Hippocrates prescribed “friction” to treat physical injuries and instructed his physician colleagues on the benefits of rubbing to help the body heal itself. Moreover, he promoted a combination of massage, proper diet, exercise, rest, fresh air and music to restore the body to a healthy state.
“Do as the Romans Do” – Massage Spreads to Rome
Started practicing massage between 200 and 100 BCE
In Rome, during the first century BCE, Galen, a physician to many emperors, began using massage therapy to treat different types of physical injuries and diseases. Following Hippocrates’ principles, Galen believed in exercise, healthy diet, rest and massage as integral pieces in restoring and maintaining a healthy body.
Europe Recognizes Massage’s Healing Powers
The 17th through 19th centuries CE (Common Era)
Massage therapy declined in popularity and practice in the West until approximately 1600 CE. Scientific breakthroughs in medical technology and pharmacology were changing the foundation of modern medicine. Manual methods of healing faded from view.
Between 1600 and 1800, numerous physicians and scientists observed and documented the benefits of massage. However, Western techniques made few advances until the 19th century.
In the early 1800s, the Swedish physician Per Henrik Ling developed the Swedish Gymnastic Movement System. This system incorporated massage with medical gymnastics and physiology. Techniques included stroking, pressing and squeezing, and striking to manually treat physical issues.
Massage and the Wellness Boom
The 20th century through today
Through the early part of the 20th century, an increasing number of new and rediscovered massage techniques were documented and practiced. In particular, massage was used to treat World War I patients who suffered from nerve injury or shell shock.
In the latter half of the 20th century, rising interest in natural healing methods revitalized massage. More and more countries started to regulate the practice and industry standards in licensing and education emerged. As a result, massage earned a place as a legitimate and respectable form of alternative and complementary medicine and because recognized in society’s wellness boom—the focus on disease prevention through maintaining wellness.
Today’s massage therapists practice a multitude of techniques originating from ancient methods. From those roots, they remain inspired by a goal cultivated centuries ago – to help others heal their physical and emotional well-being and experience a higher quality of life.
Information from www.Naturalhealers.com
What to expect if you have never had a massage. Before…During and After.
• You will fill in a form with your personal details and contacts as well as a short questionnaire.
• The questionnaire is to ascertain your current fitness, stress and health status
• The therapist will explain to you what you can expect during the session and you will sign an Indemnity acknowledging that your details are correct and that you are aware of the procedure.
• You will then be left in private to remove the appropriate clothing. If you are having an upper body massage, then you can leave on your bottoms and take off your top. Ladies may leave their bras on if they feel more comfortable. However you don’t want any clothes to hinder the massage techniques. For legs, you will need to take off your bottoms. Please wear appropriate underwear.
• Because of the nature of the techniques especially Rebalancing, it is recommended that you wear loose fitting shorts or leggings. Loose shorts are best especially if your legs are going to be worked on.
• You will then lie, usually face down on the massage plinth with your face in the headrest.
• A towel will be provided so that you can cover yourself.
• The therapist will then return.
• At all times you will be draped with towels and appropriately covered. Keeping you warm is important.
• The therapist will uncover the parts that are being worked on, respecting your privacy at all times.
• Various techniques as described above will be carried out.
• The therapist will continually ask you for feedback. You should at no time suffer undue discomfort. Pressure will be applied according to your feedback. No movement will be carried out that you are not comfortable with.
• When the massage has been completed you will be left in private to slowly get up and dress.
• You may experience some muscle tenderness afterwards depending on which techniques have been used. You may also detox with symptoms such as a headache or nausea. This should pass.
• You must drink lots of water after a massage and if possible take a hot bath and relax.
• You may feel very relaxed, energised or emotional. Emotions such as joy, sorrow or repressed memories may emerge. You could have an array of feelings both during and after the massage. Please discuss this with me.
You should expect your therapist to be
• Non Judgemental
• Execute your massage with a loving, responsive and open mind.
Massage is not a quick fix and should be an ongoing part of your wellness programme. It may take months and sometimes years for certain physical and mental manifestations to be remedied. As has been proved through out history, massage should be coupled with an exercise programme and a healthy eating plan.