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Answers From a Massage Therapist, part 2: Massage hasn’t been around for very long, has it?

Many clients have made comments that massage therapy seems to be a fairly recent health trend. Nothing could be further from the truth! Massage is actually one of the earliest healing practices of humankind. The practice of massage is found in writings as early as 2000 B.C. During the last thousands of years, cultures around the world have instinctually used their hands, herbs, oils and various substances to heal physical discomfort as well as to promote well-being and physical appearance.

First, let’s be on the same page with what massage actually is! Massage is “the systematic or mechanical manipulations of the soft tissues of the body by such movements as rubbing, kneading, pressing, rolling, slapping and tapping, for therapeutic purposes such as promoting circulation of the blood and lymph, relaxation of muscles, relief from pain, restoration of metabolic balance, and other benefits, both physical and mental.”

I’ll share some examples of how different cultures have utilized massage. As early as 3000 B.C., the Chinese used a procedure called “amma”. This procedure found points on the body where rubbing, pressing and stretching brought relief. The Chinese also used acupressure and acupuncture. The Chinese influence filtered into Japan around the 6th Century A.D. The Japanese were able to develop a style known as Shiatsu. The Chinese also influenced India around 1800 B.C. Kneading, tapotement and friction played a big role in the Hindu tradition.

After massage spread through the East, it made its way into Europe around 300 B.C. The Greeks embraced massage as part of their physical fitness regimen and in developing gymnastics. The Romans received their massage influence from the Greeks. They also used massage as part of their exercise and gymnastic routines. Documentation from many historians, including Plato, proved that massage helps fight disease and sore muscles.

Jumping to more modern times, Swedish physiologist, Per Henrik Ling (1776-1839) is the man responsible for taking many techniques and organising them into the system that we know today as “Swedish Massage”. Ling suffered from a debilitating joint disease and traveled the world gathering information to develop his own approach to treatment. As a result, he was able to cure himself.

The movement continued to spread throughout European countries such as Sweden, Germany, Austria, Russia, and England. Through Ling’s pupils, it eventually ended up in the U.S. in 1856. The American introduction is credited to two brothers, Charles F. Taylor and George H. Taylor. Both contributed to massage popularity in America by publishing books, writing articles and running clinics.

Throughout the 20th Century, massage therapy and bodywork has developed many more modalities. Most massage modalities start with a foundation of swedish style massage. There are many effective modalities that deal with different elements of the human body. Whatever method the practitioner prefers, the objective of all professional practitioners of bodywork are generally the same: to provide a service that enhances the client’s physical health and sense of well-being.

Make an appointment to come and see us soon at Body Balance Massage and Float in American Fork, Ut and let us help you with your health and wellness journey!

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