Historical, cultural and philosophical approaches to massage
Here I am going to discuss the comparison of the development of massage in the Eastern and Western traditions. The role of certain people in the development of massage in the Western tradition. A comparison of Maori massage with western massage. The scandles that took place in the massage industry. How massage therapists formed associations to protect therapeutic massage in New Zealand. Contemporary massage and finally the body, body-mind and body-mind-spirit approaches to massage.
A comparison of the development of massage in the eastern and western traditions
I found that Eastern massage had been handed down over generations from healers over 2500 years ago. In eastern massage there are similar forms of massage from different cultural backgrounds such as Chinese, Japanese and Indian. All of which refer to energy work in the body. In Japanese energy is Ki; Chinese energy is Ch'i or Chi or Qi and in Indian the word Prana is used to describe energy. Their energy work is based on the Traditional Asian Medicine Model of Health which involves the body-mind-spirit approach. Whereas the Western approach to massage includes the body and the physiology of the body.
The role of Hippocrates, Galen, Ling, Metzger, Kellogg, Vodder, Travell & Cyriax in
the development of massage in the western tradition
Between 460 to 375 BC Hippocrates was a follower of a new health and medicine concept which had taken place in the West. Hippocrates was known for his incredible work as the father of modern Western medicine. He believed that the healer should work with gentle hands and be careful not to cause any more harm to the client while performing treatment. Hippocrates was also a founder of a medical school and an author of a number of books. A lot of his work was based on the disease and medicine in the ancient world.
Galen was the first to combine anatomy and medicine together. His way of work dominated medicine during the middle ages and until recent times. Galen would recommend the use of baths, exercise and massage. Galen studied in Egypt and became Marcus Aurelius's (the Roman emperor) personal physician.
Ling's understanding was that his Swedish gymnastics was used therapeutically to influence movement in the body, and to help those in need, overcome any discomfort that had arisen via abnormal conditions. Ling combined massage with physiology. Both the massage and gymnastics were known to relieve muscle tension, improve range of motion, improve circulation and promote general relaxation. The name Swedish massage arose from this and Ling was regarded as the father of Swedish massage.
Mezger was a Dutch physician who made massage an important component of physical rehabilitation. Mezger introduced the names effleurage, petrissage and tapotement to the massage industry, which as we know, are the most commonly used words today to describe a certain type of massage.
Kellogg; along with others, helped massage become popular in the United States. Changes began to emerge and physical therapy took a hold. Women were being trained in hospitals to use massage and therapeutic exercise as a way to help patients recover from injuries.
Vodder's technique was working with lymphatic drainage. He spent a lot of time studying the work involved in lymphatic drainage and eventually found a movement that would work well. He introduced this movement to others. His hand movements are still recognized today in the massage industry.
Travell & Simons introduced the neuromuscular technique/therapy.
Cyriax focused on range of motion and deep transverse friction.
A comparison of Maori massage (miri miri & romi romi) with western massage
Maori massage has been handed down over the generations from the kaumatua (elders) some of which now is incorporated into what is called the Tapa Wha Model of Maori Health. This includes working with the hinengaro (mind), tinana (body), wairua (inner spirit) and whanau (family). Which is similar to, but not the same as, the Traditional Asian Medicine Model of Health. Maori people like to work as one with the universe, by breathing in the energy from papatuanuku (the earth mother) then breathing the old energy out to ranginui (the god of the sky) helps to centre them or align them with their wairua (inner spirit), which in turn makes the body work / massage flow more easily and naturally for the therapist thus giving the client a smooth continuous flow of treatment. In some iwi (tribes), miri miri is described as light massage and romi romi is described as deep massage. Maori also use vibration, counseling, meditation, waiata (song), and karakia (prayer) as a form of healing. This can be done before, after or during a massage. Maori do a karakia (prayer) to ask for permission from their tipuna (ancestors) and Atua (god) before performing their body work / massage. That way they know they will come from their wairua (inner spirit) while performing a massage and therefore be able to give to their client, the best work possible for that treatment. Maori massage has a holistic approach.
The massage scandals of the 1800s and their impact on the massage industry
Massage in the 1800s changed for the worst. Nurses and women were being trained by doctors to perform treatment, due to the doctor's being overloaded with work because of the popularity that had arisen from massage. Later these women were offered free training in exchange for prostitution.
Due to this massage / prostitution problem the American Association of Masseurs & Masseuses was formed in 1943. There were specific educational requirements needed from individuals to be accepted into this school. This school was taught at a very high standard, regular written and practical exams had to be completed during their training.
The development of professional massage in New Zealand including MINZI,
NZATMP, TMA & MNZ
The Massage Institute of New Zealand (MINZ) was formed in 1985. Bill Wareham a massage therapist contacted all the other massage therapists in Auckland and arranged a meeting. The focus of MINZ was to have set standards, on-going education and annual conferences for further skill development.
The New Zealand Association of Therapeutic Massage Practitioners (NZATMP) was formed in 1989 by Jim Sanford. The original focus was to have educational standards, promotion of a professional image and to increase public awareness of the massage industry in NZ.
In 1990's the name was changed from NZATMP to Therapeutic Massage Association (TMA). There was a change in focus with the emphasis being on supporting and representing the needs of the qualified therapist, and been a voice for the massage industry.
Finally MINZ & TMA joined together and created Massage New Zealand (MNZ). There were several differences between the two associations however they have learned to settle their differences to make it work.
Contemporary massage comes from traditional techniques. Contemporary massage uses a physiological theory. This treatment mostly involves focusing on the body. However the focus of the massage, depends on the individual therapist. One may want to include other traditional massage techniques.
A discussion of how the following philosophical approaches to massage (body, body mind,body-mind-spirit) relate to the historical and cultural contexts discussed.
Body massage involves the physiological approach where the treatment focuses on the body and on the effects of that massage within the client's body.
Body mind massage can involve counseling as well as massage. This treatment takes into consideration the way people think as this can have an effect on the body.
Body-mind-spirit focuses on how your actions effect your body and may lead to a karmic effect on your body. All three body-mind-spirit are inter-twined.
I have discussed the development of massage in the eastern, Maori and western traditions and how their shared knowledge has impacted on the therapeutic massage industry. I am grateful for the wealth of knowledge generously shared by those who have past on, and for those who are still here, for now we as future massage therapists can integrate these techniques into our own massage therapy.
Bullock, O. (2009). Traditional Maori Rongoa School & Clinic, New Zealand: Parihaka.
McQuillan, D. (2009). Historical Development. Dunedin, New Zealand: Otago Polytechnic.
McQuillan, D. (2009). Approaches to Massage. Dunedin, New Zealand: Otago Polytechnic.
McQuillan, D. (2009). Contemporary Massage. Dunedin, New Zealand: Otago Polytechnic.
Salvo S. (2007), Massage Therapy. Principles and Practice. (3rd ed). Missouri, Saunders