History Of Massage In Different Cultures
The history of massage dates back to ancient and medieval times and has since then gained popularity globally. Archaeological research has found out that massage was practiced in early civilizations such as in Rome, Greece, China, Japan, Egypt, Korea and India. Massage is gentle rubbing and kneading of body muscles and joints using a variety of techniques to relieve tension, pain and promote healing. Ancient civilizations used massage as a form of natural healing that could relieve body pain, cure illnesses, heal injuries and give good relaxation. Massage history has come a long way and different cultures have been using the therapy in different ways:
Massage culture in Egypt is said to have begun between 3000 and 2500 BCE. Evidence of ancient massage culture in Egypt is depicted in tomb paintings that show individuals receiving massage. There are also written records about the culture from the early times in Egypt. Reflexology is a massage therapy that was created by the Egyptians around 2500 BCE. In this therapy, a practitioner gently kneads target points or reflex zones of the hands and feet. The kneading action is said to relive tension or heal all affected areas connected to the reflex zones.
Massage tradition in Japan began around 6 CE. The Japanese massage focused on different pressure points of the body and has been developed to become the shiatsu and acupuncture which were borrowed by the Arabs and other cultures.
From documented text, Chinese massage culture dates back to the period between 2700 BCE. Artifacts that date back to 3000 BCE also depict that Chinese massage was combined with herbs to treat disease and injury. Combined expertise and techniques from Taoists, Buddhists, martial arts practitioners and Chinese medicine doctors played a key role in developing Chinese massage therapy. The Chinese use different massage methods which are based on the principle that illnesses occurs as a result of deficiencies in mental and bodily systems which can only be energized harmoniously through massage for natural body healing. Some Chinese massage techniques include acupressure, acupuncture, Tui Na and amno among others which may be combined with exercise, dietary therapy or herbal treatments.
Indians borrowed the massage culture from the Chinese and started practicing it around 3000 BCE. Further studies over the centuries developed a holistic massage therapy known as Ayurveda. The traditional therapy system is based on the principle that individuals fall ill when they are not in harmony with their surrounding world. Individuals must therefore restore their physical and mental balance by living in harmony with their environment for natural healing. To create that balance, Ayurveda guides individuals on using their 5 senses for easy interaction with the environment. Massage treatments will therefore include sound therapy, touch therapy, color therapy, diet therapy, aromatherapy and herbs.
Greece and Rome massage
Massage was part of fitness routine in the Greek and Rome culture. Massage tradition in these two communities began in the period between 200 and 100 BCE. Athletes in Greece were given massage to treat injuries. Most Romans received massage in public baths. Massage was used along oils.
Modern day massage
Massage popularity declined between then the 17th and 19th century as individuals in some communities abused it instead of using it for healing. This brought about much religious convictions though studies about massage therapy continued. From the early 20th century up-to-date, new massage techniques are being discovered, documented and incorporated in modern-day medicine. Use of hands is also being replaced by machines and objects.
Whether for recreational or holistic healing used in healthcare systems, massage therapy seems not to die anytime soon considering the increased number of massage parlors and its demand around the world.