History of Massage
Massage is not new
The physical and psychological benefits of massage have been recognized and valued since ancient times. Working within their limited concepts of body-function, early physicians were able to use massage very efficiently in the treatment of fatigue, illness, and injury. In the fifth century B.C.E. Hippocrates described anatripsis - literally, "rubbing up" - as having a more favorable effect than rubbing down on the limbs, although the understanding of the bloods circulation was at that time incomplete. Esthetically, the ancient Greeks associated physical culture with the unfolding of mental and spiritual faculties, and set up massage schools in their beautifully build centers of health known as gymnasiums.In the Far East, performing musicians and actors have always learned massage practices as aids to their artistic development; exponents of kathakali, an early dance from originating in South India, are treated with deep massage from the feet of their teachers. In some societies, massage has even been used socially as an act of hospitality; in Hawaii, for example, passive movements called lomi-lomi are traditionally bestowed on honored guests.
In Europe, massage remained an important element of healthcare throughout the duration of the Roman Empire and is widely referred to in the literature of the era. The development of massage in the West seems to have been interrupted by the designation of the Roman civilization, although an unbroken tradition continues in the East. It is not until the sixteenth century, at a time when relatively sophisticated surgical techniques were being developed in France, that we hear of massage reemerging in Europe in connection with healing.
In the late nineteenth century, the demand for therapeutic massage led to the formation of societies of therapists. These societies had the objects of promoting the science of massage, organizing training, and "safeguarding the interests of the public and the profession". The desirable characteristics of a practitioner were held to be "good health, intelligence, and a high moral tone".
In the twentieth century, the great strides made by conventional medicine have tended to eclipse traditional therapies, even though - or perhaps because - they have been practiced for centuries. Dazzled by the achievements of science and technology, most people in the developed world all but ignored the therapeutic value of human touch until a few decades ago. Yet massage and its sister therapies are enjoying a renaissance. This can be partly explained by a return to "natural" values in reaction to the highly stressful conditions of modern life, but there is also a growing resistance to the dehumanizing of modern healthcare.
Today many people yearn for an approach to healthcare that is based, not on drugs and technology, but on the healing value of physical contact. There is nothing mystical or romantic about this idea. The human body is a physical object that responds to physical influences, and a grasp of human anatomy is central to any understanding of the role of massage.