Massage is an ancient practice. There are references to its use as far back as 2700BC in China, and records suggest it was also used in Japanese, Arabic, Egyptian, Indian, Persian, Greek and Roman cultures.

Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, described the use of massage techniques for a wide range of conditions from sprains to constipation.Modern massage involves the manipulation of muscles and soft tissues to aid health, wellbeing, circulation and relaxation.

The level of touch used can be light and gentle or deep and quite strong. Massage in Europe has developed into many different practices which draw on various traditions, most commonly on Swedish massage techniques. Here are some examples:

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Swedish or classical massage –the development of Swedish massage is attributed to both Swedish physician Henri Peter Ling, and the Dutch physician Johann Mezger. Historians disagree over who was the true founder. Both worked in the early 19th century in Europe. Today, Swedish masseurs use five basic techniques: vibration, tapping, kneading, stroking and friction.

Aromatherapy massage – Aromatherapy massage therapists select appropriate oils to add to the effects of the massage, which is usually Swedish in style. The oils may be added to the massage oil or vaporised on an aromatherapy burner. Please see our other page for more about aromatherapy.
Holistic massage – takes into account the whole person, mind, body and spirit. The massage usually involves techniques similar to Swedish and deep tissue massage. The therapist may include advice about nutrition, exercise and lifestyle.
Sports massage – uses various massage techniques pre- and post-activity to help athletes prevent injury and maintain a well-balanced musculo-skeletal system.
Remedial massage – much like sports massage in technique, the aim is to relieve pain caused by muscles, tendons and ligaments as a result of injury or postural problems.
Deep tissue massage – is practiced by highly trained therapists who reach beyond the superficial layer of muscles to the muscles underneath. It is used generally for recovery from injury, muscular pain, and inflammation-related pain from arthritis and tendonitis. It is not recommended for those with active cancer.
A therapist may use a combination of techniques, and many other therapies such as traditional Chinese medicine (T’ui na) and reflexology , shiatsu and physiotherapy use massage-like techniques.

Massage does not include practices which involve the manipulation of the skeletal
system such as osteopathy and chiropractics.

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