We massage ourselves nearly every day. The natural reaction to reach out and touch a painful part of the body – such as a sprain – forms the basis of massage. As long ago as 3000BC massage was used as a therapy in the Far East, making it one of the oldest treatment used by humans.
In 5 BC in ancient Greece, Hippocrates recommended that to maintain health, a massage using oils should be taken daily after a perfumed bath. Greek physicians were well used to treating people who suffered from pain and stiffness in the joints. The relaxation and healing powers of massage have been well documented over the past 5,000 years.
The therapeutic value of applying oils and rubbing parts of the body to lessen pain and prevent illness was recognized among the ancient Mediterranean civilizations. In ancient times scented oils were almost always used when giving massages, creating an early form of aromatherapy massage.
Massage increased in popularity when, in the 19th century, Per Henrik Ling, a Swedish fencing master and academic, created the basis for what is now known as Swedish massage. Swedish massage deals with the soft tissues of the body.
Swedish massage is a combination of relaxing effects and exercises that work on the joints and muscles, but it is still based on the form that was practiced in ancient times. More recently, a work was published in the 1970s called The Massage Book, by George Downing, and this introduced a new concept in the overall technique of massage, that the whole person’s state should be assessed by the therapist and not solely the physical side.
The emotional and mental states should be part of the overall picture. Also combines in his form of massage were the methods used in reflexology and shiatsu , and this was known as therapeutic massage. The aim of this is to use relaxation, stimulation and invigoration to promote good health.