The history behind massage therapy is full of countless surprises and interesting characters. Below is a list of seven people who made major contributions to the world of massage therapy.
Avicenna was a Persian polymath during the Islamic Golden Age. Often described as the father of early modern medicine, he was a devout follower of Aristotle and the chief physician at the Baghdad hospital. Avicenna authored the Canon Medicinae, a five-volume medical encyclopedia, in an attempt to collect all known medical knowledge. The medical text includes sections on techniques and effects of massage.
"One kind of friction is hard, which enlarges
or thickens; another is gentle, which loosens.
One is prolonged, which causes thinness; another is moderate, which fattens. When these are combined, corresponding results will be produced......Then there is a friction of restoration, which comes after exercise and is called rest-inducing friction.... This friction must be done smoothly and gently."
Aulus Cornelius Celsus
De Medicina was a 1st century medical encyclopedia written by Aulus Cornelius Celsus, a Roman encyclopedist. It includes information on diet, pharmacy, surgery and massage. Book III includes information on treating disease with many references to anointing hands with oil and rubbing the patient. It is considered one of the best sources of medical knowledge in the Roman world. Celsus created a therapeutic system called "Apotheraphia" which consisted of bathing, exercise and friction.
Treating a fever: "The said parts are also to be rubbed by hands anointed with cold olive oil, to which has been added one of the heating agents. And some practitioners are satisfied with one rubbing of any kind of oil. "
Guy de Chauliac
Guy de Chauliac was the most eminent French surgeon of the 14th century. He was the personal physician to three popes and wrote a treatise titled Chirurgia Magna, which became the standard text on surgery for the next two centuries. The treatise covered all basic aspects of surgery including anesthesia, blood clotting, surgical tools, diets, and bodywork as a compliment to surgery.
Prosperi Alpini or Prosper Alpinus
Alpini was the son of a physician born in the state of Venice in 1553. He attended Padua and received doctor's degree in 1578. In 1580 he received an appointment to attend the Venetian Consul to Egypt, where he remained for three years. He devoted himself to the study of plants and the medical practices of the Egyptians. In his De Medicina Aegyptiorum, he states that frictions are so extensively used among the Egyptians that no one retires from a bath without being rubbed.
"For this purpose the person is extended horizontally, then he is malaxated, manipulated, or kneaded and pressed in divers manners upon the various parts of the body with the hands of the operator....Perfectly masseed, one feels completely regenerated, a feeling of extreme comfort pervades the whole system, the chest expands, and we breathe with pleasure."
Friedrich Hoffmann was a German physician and chemist. He was one of the most widely read medical authors of the 18th century and has been called 'the second Hippocrates'. He viewed the body has a hydraulic machine wholly governed by mechanical laws. From 1708-1712 he was the Royal Court physician to the Frederick I of Prussia. He recommended rubbing and gymnastics for the royal court. In his Dissertationes Physico-Medicae, he describes passive, active and mixed movements, as well as the perfect cure, which consisted of friction, inunction, and bathing; for the purpose of eliminating fatigue and curing disease.
John Harvey Kellogg
John Harvey Kellogg was an American medical doctor, nutritionist, inventor, health activist, businessman, and creator of Corn Flakes cereal. He was the superintendent and surgeon at the Battle Creek Sanitarium where he used hydrotherapy and massage in treatments for his patients. In 1885 he wrote 'The Art of Massage', a book so influential that it was still used in the curriculum at the Ohio School of Massage in the year 2000. Kellogg supported the idea that massage can help stimulate muscles to prevent their degradation. He explored the effects of massage on the body and paid special attention to the benefits of massage, such as fighting off certain illnesses. Kellogg listed detailed rules that massage therapists should follow; not massaging anyone while sick, making sure that they look professional and clean, and giving the massage in a room of a certain temperature range (75-85˚ F).
Dr. Isidore Zabludovsky
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I've been a Licensed Massage Therapist since 2006. In my free time I enjoy hiking with my husband and dog. I also have a passion for cooking, baking and gardening.