The History of Massage in Asia and its spread to the Western World

The History of Massage in Asia and its spread to the Western World

Asian Oriental Massage - massage in ancient Egypt

Origins of Massage

Massage has been utilized for healing throughout recorded history after all there's an all natural instinct to rub an aching place or pain to help make it feel better, and cultures around the globe have utilised this to create various different  types of massage. Massage is really ancient and the derivation of the word is uncertain - it might come from the Greek "massin" (to knead), or maybe the Arabic word "mass". Some have suggested that  Hebrew is the root with the word "mashesh" (to press).

The Beginning of Massage in  Asia

The first written mention of  massage is found in "Nei Ching", the Yellow Emperor's Book of Drugs (written

Oriental Asian Massage - chinese massage litho
nearly 5000 years ago in China), which describes many massage techniques as well as their use. Indian texts on Ayurvedic Medicine from about 1800 BC also describe different massage therapies. You will find many references within the Old Testament to the concept of people being "anointed with oil", particularly following a lengthy journey. From about 500 BC, references to massage references appear  in medical texts from Egypt, Persia and many parts of Asia. In Asian systems of massage, the emphasis is on the thought of balancing energy in your body. Acupressure massage started in China, and took on  the acupuncture energy meridians and points associated with that therapy. It's frequently used in conjunction with other traditional systems such as pressing and rubbing or "Tuina" (pushing and tugging). In Japan the dominant massage style is of pressing, rubbing, wringing and stretches, and was typically practised by blind masseurs.

The other Asian massage discipline of shiatsu combines this with pressure techniques on acupuncture points. Traditional Asian Thai massage also combines pressure, rubbing and stretches in manners that actually work around the energy lines from the body.

Traditional Thai massage has its origins in medical teachings and practices performed by Asian Buddhist monks who have passed on their knowledge and wisdom of massage techniques and other forms of healing down the ages. Read more about this history and origins in Asian culture in London Thai Massage's interesting article - The Origins and History of Thai Massage in Asian Buddhist Culture.

The Spread of Massage from Asia to Africa

Additionally to the use by skilled professionals, massage has been utilized within families throughout Asia and Africa, particularly by moms rubbing babies, and a good head massage is often a welcome  part of any visit to the barber or hairstylist throughout a lot of North Africa and Asia. Massage also developed individually in other areas around the globe. Most of the early European visitors to off-shore islands referred to using massage (like the Hawaiian "Lomilomi") Captain James Prepare, on his third overseas voyage 200 years ago , experienced massage in Tahiti to alleviate sciatic discomfort.

Massage reaches the Western World

In the western world, massage has frequently been utilized in tandem with exercise, like a branch of drugs, and it has therefore been affected by developments that have taken place in our growing knowledge of anatomy and physiology. 2500 years ago Hippocrates, the father of  medicine preached the advantages of massage saying "the doctor should be familiar with a lot of things, but most assuredly in rubbing". At that time gymnasia were established in lots of Greek metropolitan areas, and also the anointing of sports athletes with oils and powders would be a common practice within their popular public Games. In earlier occasions, Homer referred about the way the war weary heroes were rested and replenished through the use of massage therapy.

Massage in the Greek and Roman Empires

Asian oriental massage - massage in ancient Greece

Thus two purposes of massage - as an approach to reducing stiffness, tenderness and rigidity in muscles, so that as cure for particular problems - were well-established in ancient Greece, and were further advanced during the period of the Roman Empire. The Roman physician Celsus (25 BC - 50 AD) authored that "chronic pains within the mind are relieved by rubbing the mind itself" which "a paralysed limb is increased by rubbing". Julius Caesar was "squeezed" daily to alleviate neuralgia. Galen, a Roman physician (AD 131-20l) marketed its use within the preparation of gladiators for combat as well as in treating injuries.

Massage arrives in the Arab World

With the decline of the Roman Empire within the fifth century, the Arabs took over from Asia with the advancement of knowledge by building up the understanding and teachings from the classical world. Avicenna, a tenth century philosopher and physician, authored the object of massage was "to disperse the effete matters based in the muscles and never eliminated by exercise". The Arabs also established the tradition of massage being carried out in public baths- which continues to the current day within the "Hammams in  the Eastern Mediterranean (and across into Pakistan and into Asia).

Classical medical understanding re-joined Europe to the Arab world throughout the Renaissance (1440 - 1600s), first of all within the new commercial centres in Italy where medical schools were established, which spread to other European metropolitan areas in an era of rising wealth.

Throughout the sixteenth century, in France they physician Ambroise Pare (1517-1590), among the founders of contemporary surgery, used massage, particularly friction massage, in treating stiff and hurt joints. His ideas were passed onto other French and German doctors.

Swedish Massage

asian oriental massage - Ling the founder of Swedish massage
"Swedish Massage", which forms the foundation for European types of massage, is really known as because it was initially codified from an element of a method of gymnastics from a Swede - Pehr Henrik Ling (1776-1839). In the early nineteenth century, as he started teaching in Stockholm, his therapeutic massage system started to become practised widely and spread all through Europe.

Just before Ling's dying, one of his pupils established a clinic in St Petersburg that makes up the foundation of Russian Medical Massage, that is common within the former Communist nations of Eastern Europe. Within the 1840's, Dr Mathias Roth, another student of Ling, introduced it to Britain, and authored the very first book in British on Swedish Actions and Massage in 1850. A couple of his students, Charles and George Taylor, established it in America in 1856 and, within the next three decades, Swedish massage spread extensively throughout the world. Through the 1880's, there is an increasing recognition for massage therapy  throughout Europe and the United States, and considerable literature started to be written about how therapeutic medical massage can have a significant impact on health and well being.

The very first formal organisation of massage professionals in the UK (The Society of Trained Masseuses) was created in 1894, by women with nursing skills and this became the Chartered Society of Therapy in 1943, with condition registration in 1966. Though since that time they've, actually used massage much less within their work (even though the growing recognition of massage outside of the medical setting has brought to some restored interest with a portion of the therapy profession).

Massage in the World Today

Sports massage has changed into a well-established and highly specialized area, aiding and assisting world

asian oriental massage - largest thai massage session in history
class athletes to keep their bodies in a peak of perfection required to compete at the very top.

In recent decades, many intertwined factors have led to some growing public curiosity about massage - the desire to keep fit (simply, through the necessity to balance our increasingly sedentary working lives) and a growing understanding of stress which impacts on our health and  a wish to get personal treatment where appropriate.

These have offered not just to bring massage (of all kinds) into mainstream awareness but have broadened the scope for massage to appear in a number of other disciplines. Recently, individuals have switched to massage not only for general physical relaxation and also to release muscle tension following a "workout", but in addition for its relevance  in helping to alleviate depression and stress and can form a part of psychiatric therapy such as "touch communication" to boost well being and help with sickness, and nurture and replenish people back to recovery. Among the important avenues of acceptance of therapeutic massage has been around hospices, where the standard of care is essential and helps comfort the dying.

Massage training is now targeted towards the introduction of a broadly skilled and versatile massage specialist, who are able to adjust to a clientele in varied states of health insurance and health and fitness, with a variety of life styles, and requiring different types of remedies with respect to the causes of their tension and also noting relevant events occurring within their lives which require to be taken into consideration.

Concurrently there's been an increasing belief among many professionals that the massage practitioner's self improvement must be an important (and ongoing) element of their training and work. It has been driven because it's standard practice in most of the Asian massage systems now established within the UK (for example Asian Shiatsu and Asian Thai massage), and in other body based disciplines (like the teaching of Yoga, Tai Chi and the Alexander Technique.

Although, in certain areas of Europe and much of the US there's a really now a very  high standard of coaching for massage professionals, it's legally possible in the UK to become a massage specialist without having any training whatsoever. However, to operate as a massage therapist within a health centre or medical setting requires membership of the professional organisation and to have indemnity insurance. The very best reassurance for people from the public is to make sure your massage specialist has top quality, trustworthy qualifications and training that allows professionals to deal with an array of people and provide the undoubted benefits that therapeutic massage can confer. 

Asian Oriental Massage - The History of Massage