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Nowadays, massage therapy is highly respected and continues to be used as a holistic treatment method all over the world. How massage transformed to a relaxing and healing treatment method?
Using touching as a treatment method based on ancient times. Civilizations in east and west realized that massage is good for injuries and can ease pain. Beside these, this treatment method can reduce stress and relax people.
Massage therapy was born as a religious part of natural treatment methods. With the cultural differences in different periods of history, societies defined this method as dishonorable. Then in modern times, massage therapy raised again.
The traditional holistic medical system that was born in India is called "Ayurveda". Ancient priests and naturalists have developed this system through many years of work, experiments and meditation.
The detailed description of the Ayurveda principles was written 1500 and 500 years ago. Ayurveda was adopted by India and Southeast Asia.
Ayurveda is based on the belief that people get sick when they do not live in harmony with their environment. In this case, for the recovery of diseases, people need to restore the mental and physical balances with the world and nature that surround them. By this way people go through a natural healing process.
Ayurveda can tell us how our 5 senses should interact with the environment due to patient’s health problem and the time of the year we are in. Ayurveda treatments are diet and herbal therapy, aromatherapy, color therapy, sound therapy and touch therapy.
Earliest written documentaries of massage therapy was found in Egypt and China. Some grave drawings found in Egypt figure applications like massage. It is even thought that Egyptians created reflexology about 2500 years ago. In this system, the practitioner applies pressure to the reflex zones or specific points on the feet and hands. As a result, the patient feels some beneficial effects on body areas due to these points.
In China, documents that mentions to medical benefits of massage therapy are based upon 2700 years ago. Massage therapy based on Chinese traditions was developed by the co-operation of doctors, martial arts experts, Buddhists and Taoists who combined traditional Chinese treatments and believed in the spiritual and physical benefits of touch and recommended massage for relaxation.
Chinese massage methods believe in that diseases are caused by disequilibrium in flow of energy. With massage and other specific techniques, energy starts to flow with harmony in human body and the body starts to heal itself naturally by this way.
1000 years ago, Chinese monks, who practiced Buddhism, observed traditional Chinese treatments such as massage therapy. Later, Japanese people started to develop Chinese massage techniques to create traditional Japanese massage (Shiatsu).
Basic purpose of Shiatsu is to increase the energy of patient. As a result, increasing energy regulates organs’ way of work and creates a natural immunity for diseases.
Experts practicing this technique exert pressure on certain points of the body to rebalance the patient's energy. For this, they use their palms and fingers and there is no need of any other equipment. With this treatment patients may reach to physical and emotional balance.
Sportsmen in Ancient Greek were using massage techniques to make their bodies ready for competitions. Over time, doctors combined massage techniques and plants and oils for the treatment of many medical problems. Greek women also discovered the benefits of aromatic oils and used them on their skins for beauty treatments.
Galen, who was a doctor 200 years ago, began to use massage therapy to treat different types of physical injury and disease. Galen believed that the secret of a healthy body was exercise, healthy eating, relaxation and massage.
During this period rich people received massage treatment at home by personal doctors while many Romans were receiving this service from doctors in public baths. People taking treatment first bathed, then got massage therapy to relax the joints. Massages were usually made with beneficial oils for skin.
In 1600s, popularity of massage in West began to decline. Innovations in medical technology have changed the basics of modern treatments. Manual treatment methods began to decline.
Between 1600 and 1800 a lot of scientists and doctors began to observe the benefits of massage. Techniques in West made various progresses until 19th century.
In early 1800s, the Swedish doctor Per Henrik Ling developed the Swedish Gymnastic System. This system is combined with medical gymnastics, psychology and massage. This technique has been developed to treat some physical disorders using pulling, pressure, compression and knocking techniques.