Massage therapy helps millions of people the world over, and of course it has origins that go back as far in time as anyone has dared to look. Lets just say we in this century are not the first ones to have figured out the healing power of this amazing therapy, in fact, massage therapy is still in its infancy in the western hemisphere.
It may have started earlier than this, but the first documented records of massage therapy being performed date back to China and Egypt in 2700 before the common era (BCE). For thousands of years, healing hands were massaging patients, and the medical benefits were beginning to take hold. Dating back to 2500 BCE, there have been Egyptian tomb drawings found that show people performing massage therapy and these traditions influenced other cultures who then found the healing power of massage for themselves. Not only were the Egyptians early pioneers of massage therapy, but they are also accredited with being the pioneers of reflexology as well.
The first known massage therapy tradition began back in 1500 BCE and hailed from India, but it was not until the 1800's that the practice began to take off in the western world.
In the late 1800's a man by the name of Per Henril Ling founded the Swedish Movement System that later became known as Swedish Massage. Although Ling was the one who came up with the system, it was a Dutchman by the name of Johan Georg who actually wrote down and defined the basic hand strokes that are still common in the practice today.
Nowadays, Swedish massage is one of the most popular types of massage therapy and along with the Japanese Shiatsu massage are the two that are practiced the most in North America.
Massage therapy has seen a resurgence of sorts in the last fifty years in North America. Lots has been written about its healing properties and people are referencing the benefits which include pain treatment, increased circulation, deep relaxation, and stress reduction. Today you can see massage therapists in chiropractic offices, in stand alone offices, in a spa and in some gyms. It helps to promote balance and also to maintain the internal and external health that is crucial for optimum health.
While massage is still considered a holistic approach, more and more we see those in the medical profession taking notice and realizing all the ways it can help to improve overall health.