The history of massage

The oldest reference to massage dates back to 2700 BC in China. The therapy included massage, breathing exercises and exercises for hands and feet. Even then the Chinese believed in a balance between opposites: yin and yang. In the next century, massage was described in India as a ‘health enhancing therapy’. Images have also been found from ancient Egypt showing massages.

At the same time, massages were given in ancient Greece at sports events to prevent injuries and exhaustion. These were the forerunners of the sports massage that we know today. Even the famous Greek doctor, Hippocrates, used massage to treat all sorts of ailments.

By the time of the Roman Empire, it was already known that massage removes toxins and that massaging the muscles is effective in warming up or cooling down the body before or after intensive physical exercise.

The Swede, Per Ling (1776-1839), was the founder of modern massage. Apart from therapeutic exercises (gymnastics) to treat various ailments, he also designed specific hand movements while giving massages. This technique is still known as Swedish massage therapy today.

After that, massage was spread amongst the higher circles of Europe by Dr Mezger (1838-1909). His techniques were adopted by many doctors. His hand positions are still used in classic massage and sports massage.

Since then, countless books and publications have been issued about massage. Several new techniques have been added, and the vision of massage has evolved further. What will never change though is the effect of massage: a gift for the body and mind.