Massage History

  • Adding massage as a service you offer takes little start up and begins to show gains as soon as you begin to implement its ideals into your everyday work; even BEFORE actually giving a massage. When you arrive at work with the mindset of helping to create a more peaceful and less stressful experience for yourself and your client, that energy which you purposefully emit ripples out and into your surroundings and can be felt by others. Remember how you felt when you visited a spa or a massage therapist? Those feelings are part of an integral design for better health and better overall care. Those feelings you felt were picked up on by your senses because of purposeful attention given to you as a client to care for your entire being- both body and mind.

    When we see a therapist for a massage, it can be for a variety of reasons from simple stress and tension relief or relaxation, to helping with healing after an injury. One of the precursors to deciding to get a massage is always for the effect of helping to heal the mind and/or the body; it is possible to do this for pets as well.

    For a greater understanding of massage and its benefits for animals, it is important to first see massage from the human perspective. Massage therapy has a long history in cultures around the world. Today, people use many different types of massage therapy for a variety of health-related purposes. In the United States, massage therapy is often considered part of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), although it does have some conventional uses. Massage therapy dates back thousands of years. References to massage appear in writings from ancient China, Japan, India, Arabic nations, Egypt, Greece (Hippocrates defined this medicine as “the art of rubbing”), and Rome. The term “massage therapy” encompasses many different techniques or modalities. Massage became widely used in Europe during the Renaissance. In the 1850s, two American physicians who had studied in Sweden introduced massage therapy in the United States, where it became popular and was promoted for a variety of health purposes.

    With scientific and technological advances in medical treatment during the 1930s and 1940s, massage fell out of favor in the United States. Interest in massage revived in the 1970s, especially among athletes. In general, therapists press, rub, and otherwise manipulate the muscles and other soft tissues of the body. They most often use their hands and fingers, but may use their forearms, elbows, or feet.

    The following is an overview of massage and touch therapy practices through the ages. It is clear to see that touch therapy has been strongly investigated because of indisputable benefits and physio-emotional gains.

    3000 BC- Chinese: Cong-Fu of the Toa-Tse. Oldest known book written about massage. Translated to French in 1700’s.

    2500 BC – Egyptians created reflexology.

    2000 BC- First Writings about Massage

    1800 BC- Ayurvedic. Art of Life book that included massage techniques. In India, the focus was on sensual massage aspects. Ayur-Veda is a code of life and it deals with rebirth, renunciation, salvation, soul, purpose of life, maintenance of mental health, prevention and treatment of diseases.

    1555 BC- A medical papyri contains remedies for all types of illnesses and the methods of application are similar to the ones used in Aromatherapy and Herbal medicine today.

    776 BC- Olympic Games. Athletes massaged prior to their events.

    460-380 BC- Hippocrates was taught by Herodicus. Used Friction to treat sprains and dislocations (called anatripsis-Greek for friction). Thought that disease resulted from natural causes and the body has the power to heal itself. Wrote code of ethics that became the Hippocratic Oath. Hippocrates said: hard rubbing binds…much rubbing causes parts to waste…and moderate rubbing makes them grow.

    200 BC- Greek physician Galen used natural magnets to relieve pain in treating many illnesses.

    100-44 BC- Romans. Julius Caesar used Massage therapy to relieve his neuralgia and epileptic seizures. Was thought to have been “Pinched” every day.

    90 BC – Chinese created acupuncture.

    100’s AD – First schools of massage were developed in china

    589 AD-617 AD- Sui Dynasty already had knowledge of Massage used as therapy.

    600’s – Japanese developed shiatsu (finger pressure or acupressure).

    1300-1368- Guy deChauliac wrote a book on surgery mentioning bodywork as an adjunct to surgery.

    1368-1644 In the Ming Dynasty, pediatric massage (which, for the first time, was referred to as "tuina") evolved into a highly systematic treatment modality which is still popular today.

    1800's-Reiki is believed to date back to early Tibetan healing practices. Discovered in the 1800's by a Japanese philosopher and Christian seminary educator, Dr. Mikao Usui

    1839-1909 - Johann Mezger. Holland. Brought medical massage to scientific community. Started using the terms effleurage, petrissage and tapotement.

    1850s- Scientific massage therapy was introduced in the United States by two New York physicians, brothers George and Charles Taylor, who had studied in Sweden.

    1856 - Mathias Roth, English physician, taught Charles Fayette Taylor and George Henry Taylor who brought massage to the US

    1880 - Mary Putnam Jacobi and Victoria A White in New York City. Medical Doctors and professors who researched the benefits of massage and ice packs in the management of anemia.

    1850s- Scientific massage therapy was introduced in the United States by two New York physicians, brothers George and Charles Taylor, who had studied in Sweden.

    1856 - Mathias Roth, English physician, taught Charles Fayette Taylor and George Henry Taylor who brought massage to the US

    1879 - Douglas Graham-described lomi lomi and wrote a history of massage. May have been first to use massage in USA.

    1880 - Mary Putnam Jacobi and Victoria A White in New York City. Medical Doctors and professors who researched the benefits of massage and ice packs in the management of anemia.

    1884 - Professor Charcot. French Physician taught Sigmund Freud. Thought French doctors should use massage more.

    1894 - Society of Trained Masseuses formed in Britain. Set up study of massage along with prerequisites for education and criteria for school recognition.

    1895 - Sigmund Freud. Used Massage Therapy to treat hysteria.

    1900s early- Jin shin jyutsu, the "art of circulation awakening," was developed in Japan by Jiro Murai and brought to the United States in the 1960s by Mary Iino Burmeister.

    W.W.I- Swedish massage used for rehabilitation of injured soldiers.

    1927 - New York State Society of Medical Massage Therapists (first massage association)

    1930’s - Hospitals staffed Physical Therapists who were doing massage.

    1934 - Wilhelm Reich - Austrian psychoanalysis. Freud’s student, used Somato techniques to dissolve muscular armor. Attempted to cure neuroses by releasing their corresponding muscle tensions by using breath, movement and physical manipulation. The community was outraged at the thought of using physical contact. He was sent to prison for his conflicts and died there.
    1937-A French chemist, Rene Maurice Gattefosse, began his research into the healing powers of essential oils after burning his hand in his laboratory and immersing in it in lavender oil and being impressed by how quickly the burn healed. He published a book about the anti -microbial effects of the oils and coined the word Aromatherapy.

    1943 - Chicago American Association of Masseurs and Masseuses formed. Later to become American Massage Therapy Association. Dues were $.50.

    1949 - Massage Registration Act formulated by AMM.

    1964 - Applied Kinesiology was founded by Chiropractor George Goodheart

    1960's late- John Barnes,developed Myofascial Release Therapy

    1980’s - Association of Bodywork and Massage Practitioners formed.

    1980’s-Watsu (water therapy) was developed by Harold Dull


    1980’s- first solid practionary methods and studies founded on the effects of massage upon domestic animals.

    1991 - Touch Research Institute created.

    1992 - National Certification begins

    2001- CAM law activated in Minnesota


    This is an outline of only the important dates and milestones with regard to the development and history of massage for humans. The reason it is listed here is for your consideration to the length of time and the gradual evolution of investigating the factual benefits that massage truly offers.

    But note that not until the early 1980’s has canine and feline massage begun to take shape as a genuine form of beneficial care that was documented.

    Massage is being recognized by more and more veterinary professionals as a means of whole healing and supportive health care, and has for some time been integrated into holistically geared health programs shared by pet owners and pet care professionals alike. You can see that as massage slowly developed over time for humans, it is understandable that since animals cannot verbally communicate their felt effects from receiving massage, that the progression of scientifically understanding massage benefits would be even more so slowly evolving. Many of the same modalities and hand placements are easily applicable with pets, with only minimal changes in the use of pressure and touch types needed to create and utilize this universal form of therapy.