The word massage, derived from Greek, signifies kneading or pressing which consists basically of palpation, rubbing and kneading. Massage is scientific manipulation of the tissues of the body.
The history of massage dates back to several centuries before our time when healers worked miracles with their hands. During those days there were no machines or electrical equipments that help body feel great. So people used to transfer their own energy to the diseased person. The ultimate way for that were one’s own palms and foot..
Massage for healing had great importance in the ancient times. In those days science and technology were not very developed, but ancient Indian surgeons and physicians studied the art of massage from the famous books of Charaka. Ashtanga hridaya, and Shushruta. Ancient warriors and soldiers had to undergo massage during their training because massage helped them to fight against enemies and lead the war.
In the fifth century B.C., Hippocrates wrote, “ the physician must be experienced in many things, but assuredly in rubbing, because rubbing can bind a joint that is too loose, and can loosen a joint that is too rigid.”
Pliny, a Roman naturalist, was massaged regularly to relieve his asthma. Julius Caesar was pinched all over his body to ease his neuralgia. He had intense pain along a nerve in his head because he suffered from epilepsy. During the middle ages, however, little was heard of massage in Europe.
The countries in the east, however, continued to combine their instinctive desire of using the concept of touch with skills refined and elaborated by tradition and practice. Indians use techniques preserved in Sanskrit texts, which date back to as far as 2500 B.C. these texts deal with the art of maintaining a perfect balance in the functions of the body. This system is known as ayurveda, the science of longevity. Ayurveda is primarily concerned with the individual’s habit.
In the 19 th century Per Henrik Ling, a Swedish doctor, developed the Swedish massage. He synthesized his system from his knowledge of gymnastics and physiology and from Chinese, Egyptian Greek, and Roman techniques. The first college-offering massage as part of the curriculum was established in 1813 in Stockholm.
Ayurveda works by adjusting the intercellular fluid in the body-lymph-to create an electrical/chemical balance among organs to preserve their proper functioning. In ayurveda, medicated oils are used for balancing DC currents in the lymph. Lymphatic massage has proven very effective in helping patients/clients to relax.
The ayurvedic system of medicine calls the lymph system kapha (mucus carrying system). Ayurvedic massage includes pressure points, which are gently massaged with organic oils such as mustard, coconut, sesame, and almond to achieve balance in the body’s energy system.
Through regular massage the balance can be maintained or restored to the body’s electro-chemical pathways and serve to prevent health problems. Lymphatic massage associated with marmas (vital points) has been carried forward in its most developed form into modern times by wrestlers in India.
In west using oil to anoint a person has been known since Biblical times. Even before that Hippocrates prescribed oil anointment. Galen and Pare, and Herophilus (300 B.C.) described lymphatic vessels. In the 16 th century Andreas Vesalius of Brussels and Bartolomeous Eustachius of Rome believed it to be part of a venous system. In the 17 th century Olaus Rudbeck discovered that lymphatic vessels have valves that permit one-way flow of lymph as well as separate return fluid system in the body.
Massaging towards the heart has meditative quality and if oil is put into the navel, it is believed to improve the flow of prana (life force or energy) throughout the body. Massage of the head helps to calm the sense organs and also strengthen them. The shikha, the whorl at the top of the head, is the main area to be massaged. This, they say, is from where the life force or prana flows so as to maintain a clear consciousness.
In Indian culture, massage is a major part of our lives. Children and newborn babies are massaged until they reach a particular age. Pregnant women are massaged gently. Increase pressure gradually after delivery to help the body flush out waste material and maintain good health. Apart from the physical benefits of regular massage, the immune system of a baby is also stimulated to fight against various diseases.