History of Massage Therapy

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Massage and the ancient art of healing has been around for well over 5000 years. The history of massage therapy actually dates back to about 3000 BC to ancient India and its traditional, holistic medical system, calledAyurvedic Medicine.

About 2500 years ago, Aryuveda was introduced to Thailand through traveling doctors and buddhist monks. Together with this knowledge and a holistic vision of healing, including Yoga, Traditional Thai Massage was born.

The Imperial Medical Bureau in China was the home of many practicing Professors of Massage with documented proof of the benefits of massage therapy that dates back to around 2700 BC. Acupressure and Acupuncture are both healing arts of Chinese Traditional Medicine. 

The earliest written proof of the history of massage therapy actually were discovered in Egypt. The tomb of Ankhmahor is proof that the old Egyptians had already practiced massage. The painting depicts people receiving foot reflexology and hand treatments at approximately 2500 BC. Even the Cherokee Indians acknowledged the importance of feet and had developed a foot massage treatment that included sticks, stones and hands.

At around 1000 BC, Traditional Chinese Medicine was introduced to Japan. Based on the principle of acupressureJin Shin Jyutsu was created. The Japanase also developed a traditional Japanese massage which much later on was fine-tuned and known as today’s Shiatsu Massage .

Even in Greece Massage wasn’t an unknown subject. Athletes used massages before and after their sport. This would prepare their muscles before the event and decrease collected fluids in tissues afterwards. It is well possible that the word „Massage“ originated from the greek word „massein“ To knead.

In ancient Rome Massage was often practiced inside the Roman Baths. Both rich and poor Romans treated themselves to Massages. While the majority of the massage was performed with the hands, the Romans also used rough and smooth cloths and instruments that were made out of bone of wood. It wasn’t until the nineteenth century that the history of massage made a name in Europe. Per Ling, a physical education teacher, turned Stockholm into the center for medical gymnastic and massage therapy. The massage technique known as Swedish Massage Therapy was credited to him due to his efforts and studies. Although massage was still considered a luxury, its knowledge and expertise came in handy during World War I.

It wasn’t until the latter part of the 20th century that Massage began to show rising interest. Today there are many therapists who practice techniques that originated thousands of years ago. Those therapists are inspired by only one goal, to help others heal, to bring physical and emotional balance back into their lives.


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