About massage



 

Massage History


Massage, or systematic rubbing and manipulation of the tissues of the body is probably one of the oldest of all means used for the relief of bodily infirmities. Evidence has been found that the Chinese employed massage as much as 3,000 years ago. An ancient Chinese book, later translated into French was probably the foundation for modern massage and the Swedish movements elaborated and systematized by Dr. Ling.

The Japanese seem to have learned massage from the Chinese along with other forms of their culture. For years the blind were the primary practitioners and understood the use of massage in treating illness.

The Hindus and Persians, who still practice massage have helped in the maintaining of this skill since early times. Massage was also practiced by the Greeks and Romans, in connection with their baths. Heroics taught Hippocrates massage and medical gymnastics. Julius Caesar, who had a severe nervous disorder (epilepsy) had himself pinched all over daily and massaged. He was better able to carry on his labors because of being treated. Pliny was rubbed for the relief of chronic asthma.

A sort of percussion, called whipping, was employed by the ancient Roman physicians in various diseases, and is still used by the Laplanders and the Finns, who beat the body with bundles of birch twigs.

With many chronic ailments, massage can relieve the pain The natives of the South Pacific islands have used massage both in the water and out for hundreds of years.

The art of massage has been used in all parts of the world. The development of the proper use of the methods of massage was led by physicians in France, Germany and Sweden. Dr. Pehr Ling, of Sweden, in the beginning of the nineteenth century cured himself of rheumatism. Later he founded a system of gymnastics that is universally known as "the Ling System" or the "Swedish Movement Treatment." He established a school and when he died in 1839 he left several pupils in Europe who made known his methods throughout the world.

In the middle and late 1800's men from America went to Sweden, Germany and France and learned the skills that were being used there. The methods were further developed and their efficiency demonstrated in treating certain physical problems.

During the 1960's there was a resurgence of interest in the natural ways of treating the body. Since then there have been an increasing interest in and use of hand applications on the body to affect and or relieve body problems. The range has been from the Rolfing and Alexander methods with considerable pressure to Triggering with its rhythmic nurturing of the tissues. There is Shiatsu using pressure from the Japanese to reflexology where only the feet are worked upon. The use of massage in the treatment of athletes both before and after participation in sports is growing from the local occasional participant to the world renowned Olympic class performer.

The use of massage with infants is also increasing. It is used with premature and well babies and many benefits are being documented. Western countries have been the slowest to use massage in the care of infants but are gathering much evidence of its many benefits.

The use of the hands to treat and nurture the body, to aid its functions and to promote its well being is growing steadily. Recent studies at the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami in Florida have verified the value of massage in the treatment of many problems. When infants who were born premature or of crack addicted mothers and were not developing well were massaged, the results were remarkable. When these babies were massaged for fifteen minutes three times a day, they gained weight 47 percent faster than babies which were not massaged. The food intake was the same. The babies simply developed more than those which were not massaged. Eight months later, the mental and motor abilities showed better development and they had maintained their weight advantage.

Coffee breaks or fifteen minute chair massages twice a week, which is better? Studies over five weeks showed: Immediate response - A change in brain waves in the direction of heightened alertness. Secondly, the subjects showed better performance on math problems which were completed in less time with fewer errors.

At the end of the five week period, the subjects reported:
1. Reduced job stress.
2. Less depressed mood state. Coffee breaks or fifteen minute chair massages twice a week, which is better? Studies over five weeks showed:

This was felt to be of significance as the International Labor Organization has stated that job stress costs the U.S. economy $200 billion annually. The Journal of the American Academy of Adolescent Psychiatry has reported that massage reduces depression and anxiety in child and adolescent psychiatry clients. The group of 52 hospitalized depressed and adjustment disordered youth in the study were given thirty minute back massages daily for five days. The results showed the subjects to be less depressed and anxious. They also showed lower saliva cortisol levels. The nurses also rated the youth less anxious and more cooperative. Their night time sleep also increased. Cortisol and nor epinephrine levels decreased. The other youth in the controlled study were shown relaxing video tapes instead of the massage. The control group did not display the responses that those who were massaged did.

So much information is coming out weekly, often daily on the studies being done and the findings of those studies regarding massage. The public is also being informed regarding the training of massage therapists and how to evaluate the clinic or therapist before they patronize them.