Massage therapy history dates back thousands of years to ancient cultures that believed in its medical benefits.
The first written records of massage therapy are found in China and Egypt:
2700 BCE: The first known Chinese text is called “The Yellow Emperor’s Classic Book of Internal Medicine.” This book was first published in English in 1949, but has become a staple in massage therapy training and is also often used as a textbook for teaching many other forms of alternative medicine such as acupuncture, acupressure and herbology.
2500 BCE: Egyptian tomb paintings show that massage therapy was also a part of their medical tradition. Egyptians get the credit for pioneering reflexology. Their studies and traditions greatly influenced other cultures such as the Greeks and Romans.
1500 and 500 BCE: The first known written massage therapy traditions come from India, but practice may have actually originated around 3000 BCE or earlier. Hindus used the art of healing touch in the practice of Ayurvedic medicine. Ayurveda, a Sanskrit word, translates to “life health” or “life science.”
Thai massage is part of Thai culture and is not simply a method of relaxation. Historic illustrations on the walls of Wat Pho Temple show that massage was sometimes done in the temple as part of religious practice.
Massage is regarded as the basis of holistic medicine, combining meditation, relaxation and aromatherapy.
In the western world, the bible often refers to “laying of hands” on a sick body, probably another form of massage.
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