Massage in the western world:

Massage has been practised in the western world for centuries. It was used and well documented by the Greeks and later adopted by the Romans.

It was also known in China, ancient Egypt, Persia, and India. Massage today is still  widespread in its diverse forms in Asia.

Medical knowledge and with it massage, was lost after the collapse of the Roman Empire.

However, during the Renaissance medicine was rediscovered in Europe not least due to the medical knowledge from the Islamic world. In the 16th Century massage was re-evalued by the military surgeon Ambroise Paré (France).

In the 17th and 18th Centuries French missionaries brought discriptions and techniques of classical massage from China to Europe.

Pehr Henrik Ling (Sweden) undertook a thorough study of massage and gymnastics in the 19th Century in Europe and coordinated his findings into systematically organised techniques (Swedish Massage).

In England Dr. Mathias Roth (a Hungarian refugee) published one of the first English books on Ling‘s findings.

Ling‘s discoveries were brought to the U.S.A in the 1850’s by the Taylor brothers who were also doctors.

Massage in Europe was further developed in the 19th Century by the doctors Johann Georg Mezger (Holland) and Albert Hoffa (Germany).

In the British Army during the First World War massage was an important part of medical care used in alleviating the symptoms of „Shell Shock“ suffered by soldiers. During the Second World War this term was renamed “Combat stress reaction” and “Battle fatigue”.

Today the term Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is used.


  • Massage, Klassische Massage, Querfriktion, Funktionsmassage, Bernhard C. Kolster Springerverlag
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