Massage therapy has been around for centuries at this point, with numerous styles and types being offered. Many of you are likely aware of many of the different types that are generally offered, but do you know the history of them?
While most massage therapy locations and practitioners are skilled in a variety of styles and types, each one possesses its own unique history and origins, and there was a time when many of them were found only in certain parts of the world. It wasn’t until modern times that massage therapy became a more regulated practice, with training programs and education that offer therapists a chance to learn about and be trained in major massage styles that aren’t native to this part of the world.
Read on to found out more about the history of massage therapy, and where many of these types came from in the first place.
The Beginnings of Modern Massage Therapy
Massaging is not a modern practice, but it took many years before it began to become more of a regulated service that could be marketed and offered to the general public.
The 18th century is when the groundwork for modern massage therapy was laid. In those times, therapists were called “rubbers,” and they were usually hired out by physicians to help assist patients after surgeries, or to help them regain range of motion and flexibility after injuries or long bed-ridden periods. Eventually, these therapists began to market themselves on their own, offering in-home visits and working out of their own clinics. Their skills and knowledge might be limited compared to current massage therapy standards, but the general idea was there.
By far the most popular type of massage therapy available, Swedish massage relies on a certain method of strokes and pressure, and is the most common type of massage by those desiring a more soothing, relaxing feel. The therapist lubricates your skin with massage oil, and follows that by performing various strokes and movements that warm up the muscle tissue, releasing tension and gradually breaking up muscle “knots” or adhesions.
Swedish doctor and educator Per Henril Ling developed a method of movement known as the “Swedish Movement System.” It is widely considered the foundation for Swedish massage most commonly used all over the world today. Although the “Swedish Movement System” was developed by Ling, a Dutchman named Johan Georg Mezger was the man who defined the basic hand strokes of Swedish massage a few decades after Ling.
Deep Tissue Massage
Deep tissue massage is a type that focuses on the deeper tissue structures of the muscle and fascia, sometimes referred to as connective tissue. Deep tissue massage does involve a lot of the same movements and techniques as a Swedish massage, but pressure is much more focused and intense. While Swedish massage can be calm and soothing, deep tissue massage is medical in nature, as the therapist works solely to release chronic muscle tension and adhesions and improve range of motion, ease nagging pain, and restore joint fluidity.
Ancient Greeks and Egyptians were among the first to realize the benefits that deep tissue massage offers. While Swedish massage is a close relative of deep tissue massage, Canadian physicians were the first to develop the technique back in the mid-1800s. Canadian doctor Therese Phimmer developed guidelines for the technique around 1949, which she would later write about in her own book Muscles – Your Invisible Bonds.
This set the stage for deep tissue massage to slowly climb in use and popularity, with a major surge coming after the 1970s. Deep tissue massage now has a large role in sports medicine and physical therapy, as it can help manage chronic pain, address stiffness, and help treat soft tissue injuries suffered during an athletic event.
Shiatsu massage is a style that originated in Japan. It does share some similarities with acupuncture, but relies
on finger pressure instead of using needles. Shiatsu is a holistic treatment approach, addressing the whole body instead of one area where symptoms are most obvious.The primary goal of this massage is to foster better energy in the body.
Loose clothing is worn during a shiatsu massage, and it is usually performed on a mat on the floor. The therapist uses their fingers to apply pressure to certain points on the body, known as meridians. The therapist will also use other techniques such as rocking, stretches and the rotating of joints. The entire session tends to take around 45-60 minutes.
Shiatsu grew out of Anma, which is a combination of Japanese massage and acupuncture, a form of Chinese therapy. Anma utilizes tapping, rubbing and applying pressure to different points on the body, helping to stimulate muscular and circulatory systems. At beginning of the 20th century, a man named Tamai Tempaku invented the shiatsu massage, and the Japanese government later officially recognized it as a form of medical therapy in 1964.
Schedule Your Massage With Zen Body Therapy Today
Regardless of the type of massage you choose, making regular massages a part of your routine provides you with numerous benefits that can lead to a better quality of life. If you’d like to experience a professional massage for yourself, contact Zen Body Therapy in Alexandria, VA by sending us a message online or giving us a call to schedule a massage therapy session.