Massage has a time-honored history in medicine that stretches back to ancient Greece: Hippocrates, the founding father of natural medicine, was an early advocate of massages, and recommended them on a daily basis to ease pain and prevent stiffness. Hippocrates had a high regard for massage, and considered it to be one of the arts with which a well-rounded physician should be familiar. A Swede by the name of Pehr Heinrick Ling is generally regarded as the father of modern massage.
Coincidently, it was his work with athletes, specifically gymnasts, that led to his development and research of soft tissues technique that became known as Swedish Massage. Most recently, there has been an explosion of research and interest in professional massage therapy. Many well-designed studies have documented the benefits of massage therapy for the treatment of acute and chronic pain, muscles spasm, various soft tissue dysfunctions, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and psycho-emotional stress, which may aggravate mental illness. As the world becomes a global community, the ever-growing exchange of information will enrich the knowledge base of therapeutic massage.
In my opinion today, with the emergence of preventative medicine, modalities such as massage therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture, osteopathy, nutrition, exercise and yoga are no longer alternative life practices, but rather should be a cornerstone of every person’s good health practices. In my years of practicing massage therapy I have seen the massage profession changing in many positive ways. It is becoming more sophisticated, requiring education not only in technical skills development but also in pathology, neurology, medications, records keeping, communication skills, artistic touch, and professional ethics.