History of Massage

The word “massage” that we use today originated from the French word massage which means “friction of kneading,” which accurately describes the method that modern massage therapists use to practice their trade. But where did the actual physical act of massage begin? Many people attribute the beginning of massage to Hippocrates, who wrote in 460 BCE about the “friction” of rubbing and the necessity of healers to incorporate this rubbing into their practice.

According to Wikipedia, many references to massage have been seen in writings from ancient civilizations including Rome, Greece, Japan, China, Egypt, Mesopotamia and India. Others who mention these ancient writings about massage date them as far back as a part of the practice of Ayurveda in India during 3000 BCE. Wikipedia also acknowledges a biblical reference within Esther 2:9-12 that mentions massage with oil of myrrh for the wives of Xerxes.

Many people attribute the beginnings of Swedish massage, known as classic massage in Europe, to Peter Ling’s Swedish Gymnastic Movements, which were founded by Ling in 1813. However, there is some debate over the veracity of this assertion with others claiming the origins should actually lay with Dutch practitioner Johan Georg Mezger, who actually adopted the French terms used in modern massage therapy today. Massage gained popularity in the United States during the 1850s when it was introduced by two brother physicians, George and Charles Taylor. The Drs. Taylor studied in Europe and brought the scientific use of massage therapy back to the United States to treat patients.

The medical use of massage therapy continued throughout the years in the United States until after World War I when it was used to treat soliders suffering from the nervous condition known as shell shock. With medical advancements, massage therapy fell out of favor and was considered a luxury of the very wealthy. Later, as “massage parlors” became a cover for illegal sex trade, legitimate massage therapy fell further out of the mainstream. Fortunately, with the popularity of natural healing methods in the latter part of the 20th century, massage therapy made a comeback. Regulations governing the field have resulted in massage therapy once again gaining respectability among the populace. During the 1996 summer Olympics in Atlanta, massage was offered as a core medical service.

Today there are over 80 types of massage therapy. Massage is used in a number of environments ranging from healing in physician’s offices and rehabilitation clinics to relaxation for those on vacation to stress reduction for the overworked. The benefits of massage therapy are enjoyed by a growing number of people and it is gaining attention as a legitimate form of healing with foundations funding research and providing community service.


    What do Experts say?

    Experts believe that 90% of stress accounts for 80-90% of illnesses and disease.

    Therapeutic massage helps to reduce levels of stress chemicals/hormones such as cortisol, and noradrenalin. It helps reverse the damaging effects of stress by slowing the heart rate and respiration, as well as lowering raised blood pressure.

    Beyond the benefits for specific conditions, some people make regular massage part of their healthy lifestyle because it can provide an important component to your overall well-being; a better physical state has a positive effect on our emotional health and vice versa!




German emperor Frederick II, took a number of newborns from their mothers and gave them to nurses who fed them but did not cuddle or talk to them. All of the babies died before they could talk. Fredrick concluded "They could not
live without petting."

In the early 1990's, Romania, thousands of infants were put in orphanages, they were left in their cribs for two years, all alone. They were found to be severely impaired.

Duke Professor Saul Schanberg found that rat pups separated from their parents for 45 minutes underwent major internal changes including a large drop in growth hormones. Injections of growth hormones didn't help. But when someone stroked them with a wet paintbrush-- mimicking their mothers tongue--the hormone levels went back up.

Interesting Facts on Touch

Touch is the first sense to develop in humans, and may be the last to fade.

There are approximately 5 million touch receptors in our skin-- 3000 in a finger tip.

A touch of any kind can reduce the heart rate and lower blood pressure.

Touch stimulates the release of endorphins (the body's natural pain killers) which is why a mother's hug for a child's skinned knee can literally make it better .

People with eating disorders who receive massage three time a day for ten day's, gain weight faster and got out of the hospital six days sooner than those who don't.

Massage before an athletic event, makes the athlete more flexible, enhanced speed and power, and less prone to injury.

In 1996, massage therapy and bodywork was officially offered for the first time as a core medical service in the Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta.

Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia now regulate the practice of therapeutic massage and bodywork.


The three most often cited reasons for getting a therapeutic massage are relaxation (27%), relief of muscle soreness, stiffness or spasm (40%), and stress reduction (33%).

One in five Americans have had a massage from a massage therapist in the past five years.

Fifty-four percent of primary care physicians and family practitioners say they would encourage their patients to pursue massage therapy as a complement to medical treatment.

Massage therapy accounts for 22% of the 425 million visits made to alternative healthcare providers each year.

In 1999, 52% of American adults thought of massage as "therapeutic," which is up 47% from 1997.

An estimated 20 million Americans receive massage therapy and bodywork each year, according to the
National Institute of Health (NIH).

Two thirds of Americans have tried at least one form of alternative therapy or treatment for medical conditions.

Massage therapy is the third most commonly used form of alternative medicine in the U.S., having been tried by over 45% of Americans and become routine by over 20%.

Americans make more visits to see alternative therapists than to see primary-care physicians.

Massage and Bodywork therapy is sought out by a large number of people in age brackets: 18-24 (22%); 25-34 (31%); 35-44 (25%); 45-54 (22%); 55-64 (19%); and over 65 (9%).

The most important driver to try an alternative treatment is a recommendation from a friend or family member.

The number of practicing massage therapists in the U.S. is between 150,000 and 200,000.