It is generally believed that the word massage derives from the Arabic ‘mass’ or ‘Mas’h’ meaning to press softly. As an art it must be about as old as man himself because to hold or rub an injured part is an instinctive reaction to pain or discomfort.
Massage has evolved from a combination of Eastern and Western traditions. By far the greatest advancement of therapeutic massage recorded in history was by a Swedish physiologist named Per Henrik Ling (1776-1839), who created a scientific system of massage movements and techniques known as Swedish Massage. This consists of five basic strokes: effleurage (stroking), petrissage (kneading), friction, tapotement (percussion) and vibration.
Today, massage is a multidimensional skill encompassing a wide variety of ever evolving techniques, many of which have their roots in the Swedish system. The general public is now very aware of the value of massage in combating the stresses and tensions of modern living. Athletes, sports people and dancers include massage in their training schedules to aid recovery and to prevent or treat soft tissue injuries.
Most massage therapists utilise Swedish Massage as the foundation for a treatment and blend in various techniques, depending upon training and experience, to address the specific needs of the client. In general, the manipulation of the body’s soft tissue (i.e. the skin, muscles, tendons, ligaments and facia) using the hands is a gentle, flowing massage technique that uses varying degrees of pressure and stretching movements. It is most commonly used for relaxation and improving well-being