• Jan Baker

In a Land Far, Far Away....

So last week I was all excited and fired up about our new range of boxes, but I fancy, by now, you're all a bit weary of shopping or, maybe at the othe extreme, like me, panicking with the latest lockdown as you've not finished your Christmas shopping and they've shut all the shops down early! So, I've taken a breath with this post and taken us right back to the beginning. Have any real idea of how massage began? Cue me stressing over how to spell words (if Christmas wasn't enough!)

Anyway, in a land far, far away.....

The earliest form of massage therapy was being invented. Way back in fact in 2,700 BC in ancient China. Did you know that the first form of massage was documented in a book and was developed from Acupuncture (where they push needles in you)? Called Acupressure, this involved applying pressure using the hand before inserting the needles. Personally, I have never really understood why anyone would want to have a pile of needles shoved in them voluntarily but there you go.

The Egyptians then got in on the act and developed a technique that has shaped a well-known modern therapy today - you're bound to have heard of it. If you look at early Egyptian pictures, they show people massaging feet - we call this Reflexology today. I think I definitely prefer feet to needles!

And then they throw in words nobody can spell. Ayurvedic medicine! This time an Indian development which could have been used even earlier than Chinese Acupressure. It is here that you will find the first known written massage therapy traditions, and this is the reason why it's considered the basis of holistic medicine because it combines meditation, relaxation and aromatherapy. (Definitely an improvement on needles!)

About 1,000 BC, the Japanese then got involved and Buddhist monks began to adapt Chinese massage techniques. That gave us Shiatsu: use of pressure through the thumbs, fingers and palms to raise energy levels. You should definitely try this if you get the chance! I often add a bit of this to my massages when I find lots of knots in the shoulders!

And the massage we think of today, the use of specific techniques to reduce knots in the body and relax sore and tightened muscles through therapeutic rubbing (getting better all the time!), was heavily influenced by the Greeks between about 800-700 BC.

Here you have to think sport's massage; Greek men were extremely athletic. Seriously though, if you know your history, you'll know that men sat around watching naked men performing sport in the open air - all I'll say is that it's a good job it's warm in Greece!

It was also around this time that their doctors, or physicians, started to use herbs and oils and here began Aromatherapy massage. Which makes me very happy as I'm as far away from needles as I can be!

Hippocrates, in the fifth century, was your man here. He advised adding friction to treat physical injuries and promoted the use of massage together with a healthy diet, rest, fresh air and music to achieve optimum health. And when a man called Per Henrik Ling in the 19th Century created what we now know as Swedish massage, well, what more could you want? This is probably the most well-known form of massage in the world.

While techniques have evolved to include a variety of healing treatments under the umbrella of massage therapy, the basic principles in fairness haven't changed much at all.

Since massage is used for common symptoms of pain and/or stress and relaxation and involves the hands, it still uses the same principles from thousands of years ago. Isn't that reassuring? Thousands of years of development...and you get the benefits!

Oh and if you've ever tried Acupuncture, please do let me know what it's like. You never know, you might just persuade me to have a go!

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