Massage therapy can be dated back to the earliest civilisations. In 3000BC, the Chinese practised massage techniques known as amma to cure ailments and improve general health. This formed the basis for modern acupressure and acupuncture. The pressure techniques they used spread to Japan and become known as tsubo or modern Shiatsu.
Massage therapy spread to ancient Greece where Hippocrates is documented as having used massage techniques to treat his patients. He believed it was more beneficial to apply pressure in an upward direction, towards the heart. We now know that this speeds up blood circulation and lymphatic flow, helping to eliminate the body’s waste products quickly.
Massage therapy started to gain popularity in the 1700s when Swedish physiologist, Per Henrik Ling (1776-1839), developed Swedish massage therapy. In the 1800s, The Dutch physician Dr Johann Mezgner used his understanding of anatomy and physiology to develop massage for use in rehabilitation. It was used successfully to treat many diseases and disorders.
Both Ling and Mezgner’s work established massage as an effective and therapeutic treatment that was frequently used during the twentieth century. During World War I, the demand for treating injured soldiers with massage grew, and eventually the Chartered Society of Massage and Medical Gymnastics was established.
The title was changed in 1943 to the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. With the eventual development of electrical-based treatments, the use of massage to treat medical conditions declined. However, in 1966, the City and Guilds of London Institute explored the possibility of reintroducing massages within beauty therapy.
Consequentially, the International Health and Beauty Council developed courses that offer diplomas in massage therapy as a singular profession. Leading examination bodies and schools in massage qualifications include the International Therapy Examination Council (ITEC) and Edexcel with whom I have gained my qualifications!