It is thought the term 'massage' originates from the Greek word, 'Massein' meaning 'to knead'. It is also linked to the Arabic word, 'mash' which means to 'press softly'.
The earliest known reference to massage is in the East from a Chinese medical text which dates back to 2700 BC. In the West, the 'father of medicine' Hippocrates, wrote about the therapy in his memoirs.
In the 19th century, the Swedish massage was developed from techniques used in Swedish gymnastics by Henrik Ling.
There are more than 250 variations of massage and bodywork therapies used today. Despite the differences between them, they all involve touch and manipulation techniques to move muscles and body tissue. The aim is to relieve stress, tension, and pain.
Massage therapy is the rubbing and manipulation of muscular and soft tissues of the body including, muscles, connective tissues, tendons, ligaments and joints. As well as rubbing, other techniques have emerged which include applying fixed or movable pressure, holding, tapotement, vibration, rocking, friction, kneading and compression using mainly the hands, although other areas of the body can be used, such as the forearms.
Massage can benefit all the physical body systems, especially the musculoskeletal, circulatory, lymphatic, and nervous systems. Physical benefits of massage include relief from pain, inflammation, stiffness and discomfort, an increase in mobility and circulation, and an improved immune system.
Mental and psychological benefits of massage include improved quality of sleep, increased energy, improved concentration and reduction in anxiety and fatigue.