, Massage Therapy Examiner
460 BC Hippocrates wrote, “The physician must be experienced in many things, but assuredly in rubbing.”
Massage has been in existence for thousands of years dating back to the medieval times. The Roman elite had bathhouses where you could soak your muscles, relax and receive massages. Slaves were employed yet had no formal training. They were required to have strong hands and the ability to rub down muscles with herbal oils. The need was created to have massage available to those fortunate enough to afford such a luxury.
Egyptian were obsessed with cleanliness and for those who had the facilities would engage in a spa day at home with beauty regimes and massage treatments of special oils of myrrh. In their culture bathing was performed daily in the Nile for the rest of the people who didn't have running water at home. Everyone regardless of class used make up as a means to create beauty.
Indian women massage their babies with the same herbal remedies they use today. They have been using Ayurveda treatments for skin, body and hair for centuries. Their Ayurveda treatments consist of yoga, meditation and balancing of metabolic system, digestion and excretion to increase vitality. Ayurveda treatments were based on the five elements: air, water, fire, earth and sky. Three types: Vata (air& space); Pitta (fire & water); Kapha (water & earth) were used to balance your system. Thai massage was created in India and crossed over into Thailand where it is successfully practiced today.
Asian cultures discovered through the observation of nature that every living thing on earth has energy. The Chinese use forms of movement to improve health like Chi Gong and Tai Chi and were the first culture to use acupuncture as a form of medicine. Their medical practice were linked to meridians with too much or not enough energy through the body energetic system which caused imbalances in the organs resulting in illness. They used acupressure point therapy to move the energy back to where it energy was missing and Tui Na massage strokes for restoring circulation. Chinese and Japanese cultures were rich in knowledge about the energetic body and used meridian charts to follow energy patterns. Japanese use Shiatsu techniques for re-balancing the energetic systems and Anma Massage. Both cultures based their knowledge on the five elements. Certain places in Asia where prostitution is legal hence came the term “masseurs.”
Pehr Henrik Ling a physical therapist whom developed and taught a system of gymnastics. Ling’s interest in fighting and fencing brought him to practicing martial arts from his friend Ming, a Tui Na and martial arts practitioner. Ling’s daily exercises of martial arts of pulling / pressing techniques cured his illness of rheumatism. Ling convinced the Swedish government eventually to use of these techniques after he developed a system of gymnastics. Ling was finally recognized professionally by his government and became an elective member of the Swedish General Medical. John Georg Mezger, whom after Ling’s death shortly modified the maneuvers into effleurage, friction, pettrissage, vibration, and tapotement techniques, renamed it Swedish massage. Massage Therapy became popular in the United States in the early nineteen hundreds when a few doctors from the East Coast using manual release methods to release nerve impingement's due to trauma or muscular dysfunction due to improper posture alignment.
Dr. Janet Travell found the key to muscular pain after discovering that not all patient’s can have one diagnose. Her studies among the paper written by Dr. Dudley J. Morton (1920’s) on Morton’s Toe helped continue her studies of muscular pain. In 1940’s, she continued to find treatments of Myofascial Trigger Points with the use of procaine injection and vapor coolants to relieve pain. She produced 100 articles that scientifically proved muscular pain can be successfully treated also using compression techniques. Although the medical society didn’t embrace her theory, she became President Kennedy’s personal physician because he suffered back pain from World War II injuries. Nurse practitioners were using massage to help increase circulation for patients in a hospital setting and they also saw the affects of breaking down scar tissue from post-surgical operations. Osteopaths had been using these methods and found wonderful results for the majority of their patients. Manual Therapies and Massage Therapy lost steam in the late 1940’s and 1950’s after the medicine cabinets were put in many new homes and prescription medicines became the new cure for many of the same muscular problems. Massage became popular again during the Olympics for many athletes in the 1960-1970’s. Many athletes reap the benefits to this day as qualified therapists are employed to travel with them to their sports events. By the 1980’ and till present the profession has been gaining more support. Massage has seen many revisions throughout history due to the fact that medications have replaced the therapist.
Europeans when they become ill, travel to Medical Spas to heal with massage being part of their treatment, along with a change in diet. Massage is still practiced in European hospitals and considered part of the health profession, which is respected. In the U.S. it remains this underground profession that isn't recognized by the medical community or a few of the alternative method professionals.
Therapists are still being treated as criminals, being put through the police department prostitution checklist first before they are licensed in many cities (Example: San Francisco, CA.) Although massage therapists have gained respect from their clients and a few doctors, it isn't enough. Unfortunately, educational requirements lack in the United States. In Canada, a therapist has to pass their 3,000-hour educational requirements. In California, the Massage Practitioner has to have 100 hours to be considered a practitioner. In some states they must take a test to prove they know anatomy. Educational requirements and licensing varies from city to city and state to state. Today the outcome is the same; if you could afford it then it is a luxury not a health benefit it was once considered in the early 1900’s. Yet throughout history, massage remains a health benefit in Canada, Europe or Asia.
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