For the Chinese novel by Bi Feiyu, see
“Massagist” redirects here. For the film, see
is to work and act on the body with
. Massage techniques are commonly applied with hands, fingers,
, feet, or a device. The purpose of massage is generally for the treatment of body stress or pain. People who are professionally trained to give massages were traditionally known as
, but the term
has been promoted.
In professional settings, clients are treated while lying on a
, sitting in a
, or lying on a mat on the floor. In amateur settings, a general purpose surface like a bed or the floor is more common. Aquatic massage and bodywork is performed with recipients submersed or floating in a warm-water therapy pool.
and the Latin was
Ancient and medieval times
BC 2330: The Tomb of Akmanthor
(also known as “The Tomb of the Physician”) in
, Egypt depicts two men having work done on their feet and hands, presumably massage.
is composed during the Chinese
Spring and Autumn period
(the beginning of recorded history). The Nei-jing is a compilation of medical knowledge known up to that date, and is the foundation of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Massage is referred to in 30 different chapters of the Nei Jing. It specifies the use of different massage techniques and how they should be used in the treatment of specific ailments, and injuries. Also known as “The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon”, the text refers to previous medical knowledge from the time of the
(approx 2700 BC), misleading some into believing the text itself was written during the time of the Yellow Emperor (which would predate written history).
, the earliest known Chinese physician uses massage in medical practice.
BC 500 Jīvaka Komarabhācca, also known as Shivago Komarpaj, the founder of
Traditional Thai massage
(Nuad Boran) and Thai medicine.
wrote “The physician must be experienced in many things, but assuredly in rubbing”.
believed to be the oldest of the three ancient treatises of
medicine, including massage.
records indicate that massage had been practiced in India long before the beginning of recorded history.
Dr Sun Si Miao
introduces ten new massage techniques and systematized the treatment of childhood diseases using massage therapy.
AD 581: China establishes a department of massage therapy within the Office of Imperial Physicians.
Middle-Ages: Medical knowledge, including that of massage, made its way from Rome to Persia in the Middle Ages.
Many of Galen’s manuscripts, for instance, were collected and translated by Hunayn ibn Ishaq in the 9th century. Later in the 11th century copies were translated back into Latin, and again in the 15th and 16th centuries, when they helped enlighten European scholars as to the achievements of the Ancient Greeks. This renewal of the Galenic tradition during the Renaissance played a very important part in the rise of modern science.
One of the greatest Persian medics was
, also known as Ibn Sina, who lived from 980AD to 1037AD. His works included a comprehensive collection and systematisation of the fragmentary and unorganised Greco-Roman medical literature that had been translated Arabic by that time, augmented by notes from his own experiences. One of his books,
Al-Qānūn fī aṭ-Ṭibb
(The Canon of Medicine) has been called the most famous single book in the history of medicine in both East and West. Avicenna excelled in the logical assessment of conditions and comparison of symptoms and took special note of analgesics and their proper use as well as other methods of relieving pain, including massage.
AD 1150: Evidence of massage abortion, involving the application of pressure to the pregnant
, can be found in one of the
decorating the temple of
. It depicts a
performing such an abortion upon a woman who has been sent to the
. This is the oldest known visual representation of abortion.
Jean Joseph Marie Amiot
, French missionaries in China translate summaries of
, including a list of medical plants, exercises and elaborate massage techniques, into the French language, thereby introducing Europe to the highly developed Chinese system of medicine, medical-gymnastics, and medical-massage.
Pehr Henrik Ling
, a Swedish physical therapist, and teacher of medical-gymnastics is born. Ling has often been erroneously credited for having invented “Classic Massage” aka “Swedish Massage”, and has been called the “Father of Massage”.
AD 1779: Frenchman
publishes ‘Notice du Cong-fou des Bonzes Tao-see’ also known as “The Cong-Fou of the Tao-Tse”, a French language summary of medical techniques used by Taoist priests. According to Joseph Needhan, Cibot’s work “was intended to present the physicists and physicians of Europe with a sketch of a system of medical gymnastics which they might like to adopt—or if they found it at fault they might be stimulated to invent something better. This work has long been regarded as of cardinal importance in the history of physiotherapy because it almost certainly influenced the Swedish founder of the modern phase of the art, Per Hendrik Ling. Cibot had studied at least one Chinese book, but also got much from a Christian neophyte who had become expert in the subject before his conversion.”
AD 1813 The Royal Gymnastic Central Institute for the training of gymnastic instructors was opened in Stockholm, Sweden, with
Pehr Henrik Ling
appointed as principal. Ling developed what he called the “Swedish Movement Cure.” Ling died in 1839, having previously named his pupils as the repositories of his teaching. Ling and his assistants left little proper written account of their methods.
AD 1878: Dutch massage practitioner Johan Georg Mezger applies French terms to name five basic massage techniques,
and coins the phrase “Swedish massage system”. These techniques are still known by their French names (effleurage (long, gliding strokes), petrissage (lifting and kneading the muscles), friction (firm, deep, circular rubbing movements), tapotement (brisk tapping or percussive movements), and vibration (rapidly shaking or vibrating specific muscles)).
Massage room in Shanghai, China
A woman gets a massage.
Marathon runners receiving massages at the 2004 ING Taipei International Marathon
Massage has developed continuously in China for over 5000 years.
Western ideas are considered within the traditional framework. It is widely practiced and taught in hospital and medical schools and is an essential part of health maintenance and primary healthcare.
medical citation needed
Massage started to become popular in the United States in the middle part of the 19th century
During the 1930s and 1940s massage’s influence decreased as a result of medical advancements of the time, while in the 1970s massage’s influence grew once again with a notable rise among athletes.
Until the 1970s,
used massage to reduce pain and aid sleep.
The massage therapy industry is continuously increasing. In 2009, U.S. consumers spent between $4 and $6 billion on visits to massage therapists.
In 2015, research estimates that massage therapy was a $12.1 billion industry.
Massage is popular in the United Kingdom today and gaining in popularity.
There are many private practitioners working from their own premises as well as those who operate from commercial venues.
Sports, business and organizations
Massage developed alongside athletics in both
priests developed massage in concert with their
Ancient Greek Olympians
used a specific type of trainer (“aleiptes”)
who would rub their muscles with oil.
introduction to massage also came about directly as a result of his study of gymnastic movements.
1984 Summer Olympics
was the first time that massage therapy was televised as it was being performed on the athletes. And then, during the
1996 Summer Olympics
massage therapy was finally offered as a core medical service to the US Olympic Team.
Types and methods
Active Release Techniques
Active Release Techniques (ART) is a form of deep tissue manipulation patented by Dr. P. Michael Leahy in which specified techniques are used to release what are presumed to be soft tissue adhesions.
The ART curriculum also includes various nerve slide, or flossing, protocols and adjacent muscle interface work.
[from Latin acus “needle” (see acuity) + pressure (n.)
] is an
technique similar in principle to
. It is based on the concept of life energy which flows through “meridians” in the body. In treatment, physical pressure is applied to
with the aim of clearing blockages in those meridians. Pressure may be applied by fingers, palm, elbow, toes or with various devices.
Some medical studies have suggested that acupressure may be effective at helping manage nausea and vomiting, for helping lower back pain, tension headaches, stomach ache, among other things, although such studies have been found to have a high likelihood of bias.
Aquatic bodywork comprises a diverse set of massage and bodywork forms performed in water. This includes land-based forms performed in water (e.g., Aquatic Craniosacral Therapy, Aquatic Myofascial Release Therapy, etc.), as well as forms specific to warm water pools (e.g., Aquatic Integration, Dolphin Dance, Healing Dance, Jahara technique, WaterDance,
In ashiatsu, the practitioner uses their feet to deliver treatment. The name comes from the Japanese,
for foot and
This technique typically uses the heel, sesamoid, arch and/or whole plantar surface of foot, and offers large compression, tension and shear forces with less pressure than an elbow, and is ideal for large muscles, such as in thigh, or for long-duration upper trapezius compressions.
Ayurvedic Massage known as
in Sanskrit is one of the most common and important Ayurvedic therapies. According to the Ayurvedic Classics
is an important dincharya (Daily Regimen) that is needed for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The massage technique used during Ayurvedic Massage is known to stimulate the lymphatic system to expel the toxins out from the body. The Ayurvedic Massage also stimulates production of lymphocytes which play a vital role in maintaining the immunity in human body. Thus regular Ayurvedic Massage can lead to better immunity and also help in body de-toxification. The other benefits of regular Ayurvedic Massage include pain relief, reduction of fatigue, prevention of ageing and bestowing longevity.
Traditional Burmese Foot Massage at Sapel in
as Yoe Yar Nhake Nal Chin, meaning “traditional massage”, Burmese massage has its ancient origins from Thai, Chinese and Indian medicine. Currently, Burmese massage also includes the use local natural ingredients such as
, which helps to promote smooth skin and prevents sunburn.
Burmese massage is a full body massage technique that starts from head to toes, drawing on
, and kneading. Signature massage strokes include
using the elbows, quick gentle knocking of acupressure points, and slow kneading of tight muscles. The massage is aimed to improve blood circulation and quality of sleep, while at the same time help to promote better skin quality.
Bio-mechanical stimulation (BMS) massage
Biomechanical stimulation (BMS) is a term generally used for localised biomechanical oscillation methods, whereby local muscle groups are stimulated directly or via the associated tendons by means of special hand held mechanical vibration devices. Biomechanical oscillation therapy and training is offered in a variety of areas such as competitive sports,
prevention, beauty) and used to improve performance of the muscles and to improve coordination and balance. It is often used in the
Myofascial trigger point
therapy concept to invoke reciprocal inhibition within the musculoskeletal system. Beneficial effects from this type of stimulation have been found to exist, the efficacy of the BMS Matrix therapy was proven in an independent study.
was created by
as part of Biodynamic Psychotherapy. Practised as a stand-alone therapy, it is a combination of physical and energy work and also uses a stethoscope to hear the peristalsis.
Craniosacral therapy (CST) is a gentle approach that releases tensions deep in the body by applying light touch to the skull, face, spine, and pelvis.
While various types of reflexology related massage styles focus on the
, massage of (usually) the soles of the feet is often performed purely for relaxation or recreation. It is believed there are some specific points on the feet that correspond to different organs in the body. Stimulation of these points during foot massage can cause significant reduction in pain. Studies also suggest that foot reflexology massage can reduce fatigue and promote better sleep.
Lomilomi and indigenous massage of Oceania
is the traditional massage of
. As an indigenous practice, it varies by island and by family. The word
also is used for massage in
and East Futuna. In Samoa, it is also known as
. In East Futuna, it is also called
milimili, fakasolosolo, amoamo, lusilusi, kinikini, fai’ua.
, massage is known as
, pressure application is
, and heat application is
. Massage has also been documented in
Manual lymphatic drainage is a technique used to gently work and stimulate the lymphatic system, to assist in reduction of localized swelling. The
is a network of slow moving vessels in the body that carries cellular waste toward the heart, to be filtered and removed.
, and other
agents. Manual lymphatic drainage claims to improve waste removal and immune function.
Medical Massage is a controversial term in the massage profession.
Many use it to describe a specific technique. Others use it to describe a general category of massage and many methods such as deep tissue massage, myofascial release and triggerpoint therapy as well as osteopathic techniques,
and many more can be used to work with various medical conditions.
which can be used in conjunction with the treatment of
. Light massage is also used in pain management and palliative care. Carotid sinus massage is used to diagnose carotid sinus syncope and is sometimes useful for differentiating
. It, like the
, is a therapy for SVT.
However, it is less effective than management of SVT with medications.
A 2004 systematic review found single applications of massage therapy “reduced state anxiety, blood pressure, and heart rate but not negative mood, immediate assessment of pain, and cortisol level”, while “multiple applications reduced delayed assessment of pain”, and found improvements in anxiety and depression similar to effects of psychotherapy.
A subsequent systematic review published in 2008 found that there is little evidence supporting the use of massage therapy for depression in high quality studies from
randomized controlled trials
refers to the manual massage technique that claims to release adhered
with the goal of eliminating
range of motion
. Myofascial release usually involves applying shear compression or tension in various directions, cross fiber friction or by skin rolling.
also known as “zone therapy”, is an
application of pressure
to the feet and hands with specific thumb, finger, and hand techniques without the use of oil or lotion. It is based on a
system of zones and reflex areas that purportedly reflect an image of the body on the feet and hands, with the premise that such work effects a physical change to the body.
meaning finger and
meaning pressure) is a type of
consisting of the fingers and palm pressure, stretches, and other massage techniques. There is no convincing data available to suggest that shiatsu is an effective treatment for any medical condition.
A hot stone massage
Massage trainer teaches sports students how to do massage (Leipzig, German Democratic Republic)
‘s aim is to unwind the strain patterns residing in the body’s myofascial system, restoring it to its natural balance, alignment, length, and ease. This is accomplished by deep, slow, fascial and myofascial manipulation, coupled with movement re-education. Various brands of Structural Integration are
, Hellerwork, Guild for Structural Integration, Aston Patterning,
and Kinesis Myofascial Integration.
The most widely recognized and commonly used category of massage is the Swedish massage. The Swedish massage techniques vary from light to vigorous.
Swedish massage uses five styles of strokes. The five basic strokes are
(sliding or gliding),
(rhythmic tapping), friction (cross fiber or with the fibers) and vibration/shaking.
The term “Swedish” massage is actually only recognized in English and Dutch speaking countries, and in Hungary. Elsewhere the style is referred to as “classic massage”.
Clinical studies report that Swedish Massage can effectively reduce low back pain and the effectiveness can last for as long as 15 weeks. One study reported that Swedish Massage caused reduction in salivary cortisol indicating its role in management of stress and improvement in mood.
Known in Thailand as นวดแผนโบราณ (
Nuat phaen boran,
), meaning “ancient/traditional massage”, traditional Thai massage (Nuad Boran) is generally based on a combination of Indian and Chinese traditions of medicine.
– or Nuat Thai – combines both physical and energetic aspects. It is a deep, full-body massage progressing from the feet up, and focusing on sen or energy lines throughout the body, with the aim of clearing blockages in these lines, and thus stimulating the flow of blood and lymph throughout the body. It draws on
Thai Massage is a popular massage therapy that is used for management of conditions such as musculoskeletal pain and fatigue. Thai Massage involves a number of stretching movements that improve body flexibility, joint movement and also improve blood circulation throughout the body. In one study scientists found that Thai Massage showed comparable efficacy as the painkiller ibuprofen in reduction of joint pain caused by osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee.
Traditional Chinese massage