Thursday, June 11, 2009

Historical Essay

This assignment explores the differences between the development of massage in the eastern and western traditions including their origins, influences and massage techniques. The role of ancient healers such as Hippocrates and others is discussed and the traditional Maori method of Miri Miri and Romi Romi is compared to western methods. The negative association of massage therapy and prostitution is outlined and the development of the professional development of massage therapy is explained. The role of research and the benefits of contemporary massage and philosophical aspects of massage are discussed. These aspects incorporate the historical and cultural development of massage.

If we compare eastern and western massage traditions they are both very different. “Eastern traditions can be traced back to the folk medicine of China and the Ayurvedic medicine of India. Western traditions date back to ancient Greece and Rome.” (New York College, 2009) Western massage has a focus on the physiological side of massage whereas Eastern massage uses physical touch to balance the energetic system. “Western massage works on various parts of body, such as the digestive system, the nervous system, and the musculoskeletal system, for the purpose of realigning and restoring the whole system. It combines five basic strokes: effleurage friction, percussion petrissage and vibration.” (Tellefsen, 2009) Currently western massage is commonly known as Swedish massage and deep tissue massage. “Eastern massage addresses energy flow and balance within the body, stimulating and soothing specific points along the energy meridians to create effects at other sites along those meridians. Instead of stroking and kneading, Eastern massage therapists use pressure, rolling, rocking, and striking.” (Tellefsen. 2009) Eastern massage now days is commonly known as acupuncture and shiatsu.

Hippocrates: Was known for his role as the father of Western medicine. He said "A physician must be experienced in many things but assuredly also in rubbing." He said that massage - along with fresh air, good food, baths, music, rest, and visits to friends - is key to treating disease. (Kelly, 2009)

Galen: “Galen's works covered a wide range of topics, from anatomy, physiology, and medicine to logic and philosophy, both summarising what was known and adding his own observations.” (Galen, 2009)

Ling: “Per-Henrik Ling wanted others to benefit from what he had learnt and so developed a system of medical gymnastics, which became known as the Swedish Movement System. His ambition was to do everything he could to make the Swedish population strong and healthy in both body and spirit.”(Borseth, 2009)

Metzger: Johann Metzger introduced massage to those of the scientific community. He was also responsible for the start of the use of the names effleurage, petrissage and tapotment. (McQuillan, 2009)

Vodder: Estrid Vodder went on to develop Manual Lymph Drainage. “MLD is a potent adjunct in cleansing the body’s tissues of metabolic wastes, excess water, bacteria, large protein molecules and toxins; this includes long term use medications, anaesthesia in post surgery recovery, and harmful or poisonous substances that have entered the body through exposure or ingestion.” (Marabella, 2009)

Kellogg: “An American medical doctor in Battle Creek, Michigan, who ran a sanitarium using holistic methods, with a particular focus on nutrition, enemas and exercise.” (John Harvey Kellogg, 2009)

Travell: Janet Graeme Travell developed and popularized the diagnosis and treatment of myofascial pain syndrome secondary to trigger points. (Janet G Travell, 2009)

Cyriax: He developed the system off assessment for range of motion and was widely known as the father of Orthopaedic Medicine.

Miri Miri is a traditional Maori healing method which dates back centuries. There are three main types including; romi romi, toto and takahi. It is used to release stress or tension, pain relief, realignments, rejuvenation and improvement of one’s wellbeing. Miri Miri’s main purpose is to clean and clear the mind body and soul. Physical, spiritual, family and mental healths are all dimensions that make up miri miri. When it is performed herbal or animal oils are used. Romi romi is performed more for deep tissue which involves squeezing and pinching strokes. It is practised on adults. (Tuchtan , Tuchtan , Stelfox, 2004) Western massage has a similarity to that of miri miri as a purpose of it is realigning and restoring. Miri miri focuses on the mind, body and soul whereas western massage focuses particularly on the body (physiological).

The rise and popularity off massage had a huge impact on the professional massage industry as it brought about scandals. This popularity resulted in large amounts of therapist looking for work and false advertising. “Unfortunately, in England, some unethical people took advantage of the popularity of massage in order to open their supposed massage training schools. They lured poor women to the schools, offering them free training in exchange for future employment in the school clinics. These clinics turned out to be a front for houses of prostitution. (Tamar, 2009) Unfortunately this led to the association of massage and prostitution and the rise of massage parlours. This association with prostitution had a negative impact reducing the reputation of massage therapy from that of a healer of the mind, body and soul.

In the early 1900’s there were over 300 massage therapists practising in New Zealand. However development for therapists did not begin until 1985 when the first institute was formed. Bill Wareham formed the Massage Institute of New Zealand (MINZI). Their focus was primarily on the education of massage therapists and the standards of massage teachers. They also held annual conferences to build up and develop skills. Then in 1989 the New Zealand Association of Therapeutic Massage Practitioners (NZATMP) was formed by Jin Sanford. Sanford felt that therapeutic massage practitioners were in need of a professional association along the same line as the physiotherapy board. The NZATMP focused mainly on educational standards, promotion of professional image, dissemination of information and public recognition of massage. This organisation then developed into the Therapeutic Massage Association (TMA) in 1989. TMA’s focus was supporting and representing the needs of qualified therapists and being a voice for the industry. With the help and support for these institutes massage in NZ began to develop and grow the industry. The latest development for massage institutes is the merging of TMA and MINZI which became Massage New Zealand (MNZ). This merge happened in 2007 and has had both positive and negative outcomes. MNZ has major benefits for developing massage in NZ and is working hard to make the future of massage a professional, recognised and accountable professional body. (Tuchtan , Tuchtan ,Stelfox, 2004)

Massage plays a huge role in modern medicine. It is proven to be beneficial for all types of people and their medical conditions. Massage is commonly used for reducing stress and pain, decreasing depression, preventing premature birth, enhancing growth and development, increasing attentiveness, increasing neuromuscular function and enhancing immune systems. (Salvo, 2007) Modern massage types such as Swedish massage is used widely over the world. Swedish massage uses five basic massage strokes effleurage, petrissage, friction, tapotment and vibration. Modern massage is being researched all the time and is becoming a lot more popular as a choice of profession. Massage therapists are now building up a reputable and recognised valued role in the field of medicine. The negative association with prostitution is disseminating. The general public currently have a better understanding of the massage therapists role in; aiding clients to achieve a deep level of relaxation, assisting with rehabilitation and the prevention of injury, slowing down the progression of illness and helping to make the life of those who are critically ill more comfortable. I personally feel that research into massage has assisted this process of educating the consumer and other professions in the medical model about the benefits of massage.

There are three philosophical approaches to massage that affect the way in which a therapist works with a client. These approaches are body, body-mind and body-mind-spirit. The “body approach” focuses mainly on the client’s body and the affects massage has on one’s body. This approach relates back to western massage with its focus being physiological. Galen’s work around anatomy, physiology, and medicine relate to this approach also. Body-mind your mind set and the way in which you think affects the body. When a massage therapist implements this holistic approach and considers the client thoughts or feelings they can figure out the affects it is having on their body. Clearing and cleansing one’s mind can improve the way in which their body feels. Body-mind-spirit incorporates a spiritual dimension into one’s health and wellbeing. Spiritual feelings and beliefs can affect your mind and your physical body. Traditional Maori massage relates to this as its purpose is to clear the mind, body and soul. Physical and spiritual dimensions also make up miri miri. Per-Henrik Ling role in massage also relates to building a strong healthy body and spirit. (McQuillan, 2009)

The historical and cultural development of massage therapy has been influenced and shaped by many aspects including ancient healers, western and eastern methods, traditional and contemporary practice. Research and the development of a professional body have ensured that this ancient art has maintained its role in therapeutic healing in modern day society.


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Galen. (2009). Galen. Retrieved June 05, 2009, from

Janet G. Travell. (2009). Janet G. Travell. Retrieved June 05, 2009,

John Harvey Kellogg. (2009). John Harvey Kellogg. Retrieved June 07, 2009,

Kelly, J. (2009). Holistic therapy - where did it all begin?. Retrieved June 04, 2009,

Marabella, K. (2009). Vodder Method of Manual Lymph Drainage. Retrieved June05,2009, from

McQuillan, D. (2009). Fundamentals of Massage. Dunedin, New Zealand: Otago Polytechnic.

New York College. (2009). Massage Therapy for Professionals. Retrieved June o5, 2009,

Salvo.S.G. (2007). Massage Therapy: Principles and Practice (3rd ed.). Missouri, Saunders.

Tamar. (2009). History of Massage. Retrieved June 05,2009,

Tellefsen, R. (2009). Eastern Massage or Western Massage. Retrieved June 05, 2009,
from western-massage

Tuchtan, C., Tuchtan, V.,& Stelfox, D. (2004). Foundations of massage. Elsevier: UK.

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