Intro to Massage Therapy
and Where it Comes From
(See below for links to more articles.)
Massage Therapy is just one general therapy from a wide array
of other effective and closely related bodywork systems, such as: Acupressure, Body Work, Manipulative
Therapy, Manual Lymphatic Drainage, Structural Integration, Alternative Medical Systems, Mind-Body
Intervention, Biologically Based Therapy, Energy
Therapy, Shiatsu and Tui Na. All of
these come under the wide umbrella of alternative medicine and
Massage Therapy, generally speaking, is a group of procedures in which various methods are used to
manipulate the soft tissues of the subject’s body, tissues such as the muscles, tendons, ligaments, skin, joints,
and connective tissues, not to mention the lymphatic system and organs of the gastrointestinal system.
The primary goal of Massage Therapy is to affect physical, psychological, and functional curative changes in the
body. This is done by performing manipulative functions which involve moving or stationery pressure, structured or
unstructured force to strategic points, vibration, stroking, kneading, and so on.
On occasion, mechanical devices are used as tools of the trade, but for the most part, the Massage Therapy is
applied manually with the therapist’s hands, fingers, elbows, forearms and feet. The subject is fully clothed
in a massage chair or partially to totally naked, but covered with a towel, on a massage table or on a mat on the
History of Massage Therapy
Ancient scriptures have attested to the fact that massage therapy dates back into antiquity. It has been a
fundamental practice in many different cultures, such as the Roman, Greek, Japanese, Chinese, Egyptian,
Mesopotamian and Indian. Even Biblical writings from c. 493 BC speak of daily massage with olive oil and
myrrh being applied to the wives of Xerxes (Esther, 2:9-12) as part of their daily beauty routine.
Hippocrates of Cos, a Greek physician of the fourth century BC who is also considered the “father of medicine”
and after whose teachings the famous Hippocratic Oath was named, wrote that “The physician must be experienced in
many things, but assuredly in rubbing.”
In more modern times, Massage Therapy gained its popularity in the United States when it was presented by two
physicians from New York in the 1800s. Their techniques were an adaptation from the Per Henrik Ling
Massage Therapy which was developed in Sweden. The popularity of Massage Therapy waned with
other new and exciting innovations in medicine during the 1930s and 1940s, but was revived again by the
athletic community in the 1960s and 1970s. Massage Therapy was provided as a central medical service for the
first time in the United States during the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia.
Where the Term Comes From
Etymologically speaking, the word “massage” in English comes from a long line of derivatives as follows:
the French word “massage” which means “the friction of kneading,” which comes from the Arabic word “massa” which
means “to touch, feel or handle,” which comes from the Latin word “massa” which means “mass or dough.” The
Greek word for “massage” is “anatripsis” and the Latin word is “firctio.” However, the oldest known origin of
the English word “massage” comes from the Biblical Hebrew word “me-sakj” which means “to anoint with oil.”
What we refer to as Massage Therapy today has in the past been merely referred to as Massage. However, the
“therapy” portion of the Massage Therapy came into being only when the illegal prostitution and sexual services in
the United States began advertising themselves and their wares as “massage.” Wanting to distinguish itself,
the legitimate massage became Massage Therapy.
More on Specific Massage Therapies:
- Balinese Massage Therapy
Tthe Balinese massage therapy is one of a number of ancient traditional massage techniques which had been carried down from one generation to another as a method of curing a wide variety of complaints.
- Deep Tissue Massage Therapy for Tight Muscles
The therapeutic benefits of Deep Tissue Massge are particularly good for chronically tight and constricted areas or the body, such as stiff necks, tightness of lower backs, and aching shoulders...
- The Hot Stones Massage
The Hot Stone massage is a therapeutic massage technique in which a heated stone is held by the massage therapist who uses it to apply the customary and traditional Swedish massage strokes.
- Indian Head Massage
The main focus of the Indian Head massage is to open up blockages and to allow positive energy to flow freely through the entire body and in the process to get rid of amassed negative energy...
- Korean Martial Therapy
The Korean Martial Therapy, also well known by its acronym KMT, had been recognized for its effectiveness in keeping warriors in their topmost forms after as well as before battles
- Reflexology Massage Promotes Health and Well-Being
Reflexology Massage, which is also known as the zone therapy, intends to improve the subject’s overall health of body, as a whole, as well as ...
- The Ancient Shiatsu Massage Therapy
Literally translated from Japanese, “Shiatsu” means “finger pressure” and it was incorporated into the Japanese culture approximately 1,500 years ago...
- Sports Massage for better Performance
Sports Massage prepares the bodies of professional and amateur sportspersons for their best possible performance before participating in a sport and it then helps their bodies to recover afterwards...
- Swedish Massage Therapy Promotes Well-Being
Swedish Massage is a means of improving blood circulation, of relieving muscle stress and pain, of increasing flexibility and of promoting total relaxation of the body and mind...
- Zen Massage Therapy
By reaching into the very heart of every cell of the body, the Zen Massage epitomizes unequivocal calm, peace, and a relaxed state of being...
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