Massage Therapy

Interesting Facts about the History of Massage for Massage Therapy College Students

November 08, 2019

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If you’re interested in studying massage therapy, you may already be aware that it is a very old practice with a rich history. The longevity of massage as a healing method serves to show how useful and trusted it is. The wellness world embraces soft tissue manipulation as a means to improve blood flow, lower stress and reduce pain.

These benefits have been enjoyed since ancient times, starting in China and Egypt. Meanwhile, ayurvedic medicine originated in India and is one of the oldest systems of medicine in the world and is incorporated into modern massages. And massage was even used on athletes in Ancient Greece and Rome. Read on to learn more about the roots of massage therapy and how it’s been benefiting human beings for millennia.

Huangdi Neijing Is a Book that Massage Therapy School Students Should Know

The Huangdi Neijing is an ancient Chinese text that has greatly influenced Chinese medicine. It contained information about using finger pressure to help with digestion and energy levels. This book is also still used as a reference for alternative medical practices like acupuncture therapy and herbal remedies.

In addition, the text presents human health through the lenses of both physical and spiritual approaches. This holistic angle is characteristic of traditional Chinese medicine. Taoism and the concept of yin and yang are also emphasized in the book. For many, massage is a very personal treatment and for some it connects to their spirituality. You can be sensitive to this in your career after massage therapy school by understanding the origins of pressure used as healing.

Tomb Paintings Show History for Massage Therapy College Students

In the Tomb of Ankhmahor, also referred to as the Tomb of The Physician, there are clues of the history of massage in Egypt. Ankhmahor was not a doctor himself, but the walls of his tomb depict various medical practices. While there is some debate over whether the images depict another procedure, many think that reflexology work on the feet and hands for medical purposes is being shown. Other Ancient Egyptian monuments and relics also depict foot massage, usually being given to royalty. Ancient Egyptians also used essential oils in massage and other therapies.

Reflexology was used in Ancient Egypt for healing purposes
Reflexology was used in Ancient Egypt for healing purposes

Ayurvedic Principles Are Used to Connect Massage with Emotions

Ayurveda began as knowledge that was passed down orally, after which people began using Sanskrit to record the information. This medical system was developed in India and is still widely practiced today. If you’re in massage therapy college, you’ll be particularly interested in ayurvedic massage. This method incorporates principles of ayurveda, using energy points on the body called chakras. The holistic practice is more heavily focused on emotional tension and the release of it, rather than manipulation of muscle fibers to release the physical tension in them.

Ancient Sports Massage Was Done on Greek and Roman Athletes

Massage for athletic performance also has deep historical roots. In Rome and Greece, training for sports featured a combination of exercise and massage. This allowed for better recovery and conditioning. Hippocrates’ work in particular was very foundational in identifying the benefits of massage, separating the technique into four categories called Vigorous, Gentle, Much and Moderate.

Sports massage also appeared in Asia, particularly in martial arts and dance. Eventually, in the 20th century the Soviet Union used sports massage therapists for national teams, bringing the practitioners with them on the road. The concept spread and became more common in other parts of the world by the 1970s.

Ancient Greek athletes benefited from therapeutic massage techniques
Ancient Greek athletes benefited from therapeutic massage techniques

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