History of Massage


A Very Brief History of Massage

Massage therapy has a long and storied past. It has been evolving along with the rest of society for nearly 5,000 years, and whether you are entering Soma as a new student, leaving as a new graduate or you’ve been working in the field for a number of years, you are now a part of this amazing lineage.

The MBLEx exam all new massage therapists must take in order to become licensed often has questions concerning the history of the profession. With that in mind, here are a few key points to remember.

  • The earliest evidence of massage is from paintings of people being kneaded on the inside of Egyptian tombs which are dated at about 5,000 years old.
  • There are mentions of touching and pressing in the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine (around 200 BCE).
  • Galen of Rome (129-199 AD) boasted the benefits of frictions and compressions for athletes and pregnant women.
  • There are Indian pictures of the Buddha receiving massage (800 AD)
  • Many different Swedish doctors and writers came up with the terminology we use today (effleurage, petrissage, etc) during the 18th and 19th centuries.
  • And of course, Janet Travell began mapping out trigger points way back in 1942.
  • And now there’s you!

Through the years the actual medical benefits of massage have become more and more apparent, too. Relaxation, reduced stress and muscle tension, reduced pain levels, and an overall increase in general wellness are just a few of the benefits associated with massage therapy. We’ve all had clients who have said their lives were changed forever after receiving their very first massage. From improved joint range of motion to better quality of sleep, you are entering a career where people are going to be so happy to see you, which we know is a far cry from some of the jobs you’ve had in the past.

So if you are preparing for the MBLEx, we wish you good luck. And if you’re already working in the field, we wish you continued success.

Who knows, maybe one of you will be the next bullet point on the list of significant massage therapy milestones, and we can say that we knew you back when.