The Art of Massage

Massage, or systematic rubbing and manipulation of the tissues of the body, is probably one of the oldest of all means used for the relief of bodily infirmities. In the late 1800’s, a quirky physician named John Harvey Kellogg began to study massage in depth. He experimented and documented the effects of massage on every system of the human body. (1) As he began his journey, he looked back over centuries of medical treatments and discovered massage to be an important part of early medicine.

Did you know that massage was once considered a primary medical treatment for many aches, pains, diseases and conditions of the body and mind? The art of massage was studied and practiced in various forms by leading physicians of ancient cultures the world over.

It was even recommended for animals such as horses and dogs to strengthen their legs and beautify their skin and hair.

For a more modern sense of massage, Kellogg turned to the Dutch practitioner Johan Georg Mezger who created a system of massage techniques such as stroking (effleurage), kneading (petrissage), striking (tapotement), rubbing (friction), and vibration. This is known as Swedish Massage. (2) Dr. Kellogg employed these Swedish massage techniques as well as his own spin on diet and exercise to heal his patients.

Since then, we have had a plethora of innovative and creative professionals give us massage and bodywork modalities that have made a significant impact on the practice of massage as well as the health and well-being of many people along the way such as:

1. Founder of Swedish or Classic Massage – Johan Georg Mezger
2. Founder of Massage Therapy in the U.S. – Cornelius E, De Puy, MD
3. Founder of Craniosacral Therapy – W.G. Sutherland
4. Founder of Zone Therapy (Reflexology) – Dr. William Fitzgerald
5. Founder of Trigger Point Therapy – Janet G. Travell, MD
6. Founder of Myofascial Release Technique – John F. Barnes, PT
7. Pioneer in Orthopedic Massage – Whitney Lowe
8. Founder of Manual Lymph Drainage – Dr, Emil Vodder, PhD

There are many more important figures throughout the past 50 or so decades that have made important contributions to the massage and bodywork industry. They have forged a path for massage therapists to move forward in presenting Massage Therapy as a viable alternative healing method for many people.

Though still largely anecdotal, the evidence of the effectiveness of massage to reduce stress, relieve or eliminate muscle and joint pain, improve sleep patterns, decrease post-surgical hospital stays, increase mental acuity, correct muscle imbalances, reduce pain and discomfort associated with cancer treatments, help reduce injury due to over tight muscles and tendons, and much more is becoming harder to ignore.

Today, Massage Therapists and Massage Therapy organizations are stepping up to gather anecdotal evidence in meaningful ways. Hopefully, this collection of data will lead to more medical trials; giving rise to a greater legitimacy of Massage Therapy in the medical community.

Check these links out:

1. The Art of Massage, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg
2. Massage Magazine,