The history of massage started during the 3000 BC when the Chinese wrote Cong-Fu of the Tao-Tse, the oldest book written about massage which was later translated to French in the 1700s. In 2760 BC, Nei Ching or the Yellow Emperor’s Esoteric Classic discussed therapeutic touch.
The Egyptians made their contribution in massage when they created reflexology in 2500 BC. Even the Indians participated in the development of massage when they established Ayurvedic massage.
During 500 BC – 50 AD, the Greek and Romans used massage on Olympic athletes and to relieve neuralgia and epileptic seizures. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, incorporated massage in medicine. In 130 AD – 201 AD, Galen, a Greek physician from the school of gladiators who were rubbed before fighting wrote a book on manual medicine.
In 100s AD, schools for massage therapy were created in China. Then in 600s AD the Japanese developed shiatsu, which uses the fingers to apply pressure on acupuncture points to regenerate energy. During the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644), pediatric massage therapy or tuina evolved into a higher form of therapy which is still used today.
During 1776 – 1813, Per Henrik Ling, a fencing master and gymnast cured himself of rheumatism through massage and created Medical Gymnastics and later formed the Royal Gymnastic Central Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. Then in 1839 – 1909, Johann Mezger introduced medical massage to the scientific community and the terms effleurage, petrissage and tapotement became familiar.
The effects of massage on anemia were researched by medical doctors and professors in New York City in 1880. Four years later, Professor Charcot, a French physician who taught Sigmund Freud recommended massage therapy in French medicine.
The Society of Trained Masseuses was formed in Britain which offered massage education recognized by schools in 1894. A year after, Sigmund Freud used massage therapy to treat hysteria. During the same year, Harvey Kellog wrote ‘The Art of Massage’.
The 1900’s gave birth to different massage therapy methods like Jin Shin Jyutsu or the art of circulation awakening developed in Japan by Jiro Murai, The Alexander Technique created by F.M. Alexander, an Australian actor, Naprapathy (1907) which originated in Chicago, Bindgewebs massage (1929), created by German Physical therapist, Elizabeth Dicke and Neuromuscular therapy (1930) created by Stanley Leif.
In 1937, Rene Maurice Gattefosse, discovered the healing powers of essential oils accidentally during a laboratory experiment where he burned his hand and used lavender oil to soothe it. He coined the word Aromatherapy. Two years after, The Florida State Massage Therapy Association Inc. (FSTMA) was organized. Today, it is one of the oldest massage organizations with 85 charter members.
The Massage Registration Act was formulated during 1949, and in 1950 Francis Tappan and Gertrude Beard wrote books and articles concerning massage techniques. Two years later, Hoshino Therapy, which is an official medical therapy in Argentina, was developed. Then during the 1960s, John Barnes created Myofascial Release Therapy.
In 1977-1978, Aston- Patterning was developed by Judith Aston and Hellerwork was created by Joseph Heller. Both methods are forms of Rolfing.
During the 1980s, the Association of Bodywork and Massage Practitioners was established. Also, Watsu or water therapy was developed by Harold Dull followed by Stuart Taws creation of Taws Method or Soft Tissue Release.
In the 1990s, a protocol for fybromyalgia syndrome was defined by the American College of Rheumatology and the Touch Research Institute, which studies the effects of touch therapy, was established.