In his 1856 journal, the great American philosopher and naturalist Henry David Thoreau wrote, "I love the winter, with its imprisonment and its cold, for it compels the prisoner to try new fields ...View Article
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The history of massage is much more than its association with medical practice. Its history is richly connected with many other human activities and spans the entire globe as well as all of the human historic record.
Western massage is not new — it did not begin with Peter Ling of Sweden, as is commonly believed, and it did not replace the ancient ways. Western massage began about 480 B.C.E. when Hippocrates of Cos changed the ancient shamanic ways of rubbing down and out the body to one of rubbing up and toward the alimentary tract. Since then, both have survived, often alongside one another, in practice.
Prior to the late 19th and early 20th century, massage was commingled with a variety of other healing methods. Only then did it finally emerge as a single stand-alone therapeutic tool.
The history of massage is not something one can easily learn about from other texts. It has been largely obscured from the annals of medicine, sports, nursing, midwifery, barbering, shamanism, anthropology, archaeology and other specialized areas of study. Finding evidence of massage in human history has been and continues to be a challenge.
Finally, and perhaps most important, is that the history, study and practice of massage are not all about technique. Their past, unraveling their entanglement with other human activities, clearly reveals the application of caring human touch is an inherently innate behavior for giving and receiving love, which all humankind wants and needs. The real purpose of giving massage is to foster more depth of feeling for one another in order to bring out the love that often lies buried beneath the pain of everyday suffering.
Robert Noah Calvert