Massage can be defined as the systematic and manual manipulation of the body’s soft tissue for therapeutic purposes promoting health and well-being.
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, though all of these strokes are not used on every part of the body.
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.