The Historical Origins of Massage Techniques

scarlson By scarlson, 28th May 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Health>Health Clubs & Spas>Massage

The historical origins of massage can be traced back to the second century B.C. Massage therapy has developed into a diverse field. There are now many different types and techniques of massage therapy.

Historical Origins of Massage Technique

We know that the first actual writings on massage techniques came from the father of medicine, Hippocrates. “The physician must be experienced in many things, but assuredly also in rubbing; for things that have the same name have not always the same effects. For rubbing can bind a joint that is too loose and loosen a joint that is too rigid … Rubbing can bind and loosen; can make flesh and cause parts to waste.”.

There are more than 100 different types of massage techniques and probably as many variations of those techniques. Massage therapy techniques have developed in every continent and in every culture. How did all of these massage techniques develop? I believe that at its most basic level, massage developed out of purely instinctual responses. If you hurt, you rub to make yourself feel better. If your child is hurt, you put your hand where they are hurting.

Historical Origins of Modern Massage Techniques

In Asia, Amma massage was thought to have arisen out of the basic instinctual response to rub ones cold hands and feet. Robert Noah Calvert suggested that midwives played a very big part in the development of massage. Pregnant women and women in labour share the same pain experiences and instinctively and intuitively know what would help to alleviate some of the discomfort.

The Development of Massage Technique:

Judith Aston created the technique, Aston Patterning following a very serious car accident. The technique she developed was part of her own personal healing journey.

Frederick Matthias Alexander was a Shakespearean Orator who who lost his voice while on stage. He developed the Alexander technique following his own journey of self-healing and understanding of habitual body posturing and chronic muscle tension.

Therese C. Pfrimmer, a Canadian nurse and massage therapist discovered a massage technique that she applied to herself. She was suffering from paralysis of her lower extremities. The technique of Pfrimmer Deep Muscle therapy arose out of her own recovery.

Thomas A. Bowen developed the Bowen technique. Although he was untrained, he claimed that he could sense subtle vibrations in the body and performed simple manipulations to help address and alleviate pain. Bowtech is the original Bowen technique that uses gentle "moves" over the muscle and other soft tissue to affect and balance the whole body.

These are just a few of the many examples of how massage techniques have arisen out of someone's actual lived experience borne out of their desire to heal and feel better and ultimately share that with others.

© Copyright, Sylvia Carlson, February 2007. Reproduction without permission prohibited. Previously published by


History Of Massage, Massage History, Massage Techniques, Massage Treatment, Types Of Massage

Meet the author

author avatar scarlson

Share this page

moderator johnnydod moderated this page.
If you have any complaints about this content, please let us know


author avatar Tranquilpen
28th Jan 2012 (#)

Most informative share, thank you.

Reply to this comment

author avatar Denise O
24th Sep 2012 (#)

I get a massage twice a week. I have had the same massage therapist/friend for 10 years now, I just love her. Living with the disease I have for 23 years+, I can honestly say massage therapy is the best remedy out there, then comes herbs/vitamins and just keep on moving on. Oh by the way, the massage I opt for last 3 hours, 'very' deep as she is stretching my muscles out, not for the faint heart but, it keeps me lubed and moving. Nice information on the history of massage. Thank you for sharing.:)

Reply to this comment

Add a comment
Can't login?