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A Brief History of Massage Therapy

massage around spineDid you know that massage therapy is one of the oldest, most established types of medical treatment? It’s been practiced in some form or another for thousands of years, with evidence that Ancient Egyptians, Chinese, and Greek civilizations used this form of bodywork.

Ancient Origins

The earliest recorded use of massage dates back to 3000 B.C., when the Ancient Egyptians employed massage as a form of medical treatment. They believed this type of bodywork could heal various physical ailments and boost overall health. This practice extended throughout the region, with Hippocrates—known as the father of modern medicine—recommending rubbing and kneading to treat a myriad of conditions.

In the 2nd century China, a physician named Hua Tuo developed a system called zhen jiu (or “acupuncture moxibustion”) that combined acupuncture needles with heated stones applied directly to the skin. This practice is believed to be one of the first forms of therapeutic bodywork.

Later in the 4th century A.D., Japan began using shiatsu (a type of bodywork) to help heal people’s physical ailments. Around this same time in India, Ayurvedic medicine was being developed, which also incorporated bodywork as an essential component of its healing process.

During Medieval Europe, Swedish physician Per Henrik Ling developed a system called “Medical Gymnastics” that combined Swedish gymnastics exercises with manual manipulation techniques. This system spread throughout Europe and ultimately evolved into what we know today as Swedish massage therapy.

Since the earliest days of massage, new varieties have been developed based on these original methods. These types of bodywork include deep tissue, sports, aromatherapy, and many more.

Modern Varieties

Today, there are many types and styles of massage available worldwide; these range from traditional forms like Swedish to more modern methods including hot stone or reflexology treatments.

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