Complementary Therapies in Neurology: An Evidence-Based Approach Edited by Barry S.Oken ISBN 1-84214-200-3 Copyright © 2004 by The Parthenon Publishing Group, London


Massage therapy (therapeutic massage) is the manual manipulation of soft body tissues to enhance health and well-being1. Animal behavior indicates that the application of pressure, rubbing, vibration and joint movement are used instinctively to relieve pain or respond to injury2. Massage therapy is one of the oldest forms of medicine known to mankind, having been practiced worldwide since ancient times1. Archeologists have found prehistoric artifacts depicting massage for healing purposes. Fritz speculated that early massage was used for pain relief based on a theory of counter-irritation and utilized procedures such as scraping, cutting and burning of the skin2. Other massage techniques, including traction, rubbing the muscles and passively moving joints, have been documented in medical literature from ancient Egyptian, Persian, Greek and Roman civilizations. Ancient Greeks received friction, anointing and rubbing with sand before they took part in the Olympic games. The ‘laying on of hands’ for ritual, hygienic and therapeutic benefits has been recorded in Hebrew and Christian writings. The ancient Mayan people, the Incas, and other native people of the North and South American continents also used joint manipulation and massage. Massage has been a part of ayurveda, the ‘art of life’, in India for almost 3000 years. Chinese medical literature dating back to 2000 BC includes the words anmo, which means ‘press-rub’ and tuina, which means ‘push-pull’2,3.