While the name “massage therapy” is relatively new, the healing power of touch has been used for thousands of years.
In fact, there are references to massage therapy in ancient writings from India, Egypt, Japan, China, & Mesopotamia. Perhaps the earliest depiction of massage comes from the Tomb of Akmanthor (“The Tomb of the Physician”) in Saqqara, Egypt. In the wall painting, two men are working on the feet of two other men. Archaeologists date the painting to 2330 B.C.
Since the times of the ancient Egyptians, massage strategies and technologies have progressed. Beyond using hands, elbows and feet to administer massage, some practitioners will use hot stones, water-pressure, and warm baths.
These massage styles aim for certain health goals including:
- reducing pain
- decreasing state and trait anxiety
- reducing subclinical depression
- temporarily reducing blood pressure and heart rate
- and other neuromuscular benefits
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) notes that a good amount of research has been conducted regarding health and massage. While there are some conflicting findings, the science suggests massage may improve the quality of life for people with chronic conditions, cancer, and mental health concerns.