Rachel Richards

licensed massage therapist

east village, nyc

News: August 2010

The Timeless Healing Power of Massage

When would you guess the first massage was performed? History shows that massage has been used as a form of health care as early as 7000 BC! The use of massage is instinctual to us all. If we bump or bruise ourselves, we rub the area. We hold our bellies when they ache. We massage our temples when we have a headache. People in ancient civilization had those same instincts. The oldest records of massage date back to ancient River Valley civilizations. These records refer to "anointing" the body, or rubbing oil into the skin to alleviate disease.

Evidence of massage in ancient Mesopotamia is shown on clay tablets and paintings on the walls of tombs. In 4000 BC, Queen Isis of ancient Egypt used massage as a healing treatment. Ayurvedic healthcare grew out of ancient Indian scriptures and is holistic, attempting to prevent illness by balancing the mind, body and spirit. Massage is among the therapies utilized in this approach, along with diet, meditation, yoga, aromatherapy, and more.

Extensive massage information is found in ancient Chinese records, as well. The Chinese term "moshuo" refers to "finger pressure used to energize someone or treat paralysis, chills, fever, and poor circulation of blood." It is found in a medical reference book known as the Nei Ching, which is the foundation for traditional Chinese medicine. This style of massage spread to Japan and came to be known as Shiatsu.

In Ancient Greece, it was imperative for athletes in the Olympic Games to maintain optimum physical health in order to give their best performance. Athletes had physical training at Greek gymnasiums, where servants offered massage before and after competition to tone muscles and minimize exhaustion. Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician, is considered the "Father of Medicine." His holistic methods included massage, exercise and rest.

Massage developments continued throughout the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and on to today. In Sweden, Per Henrik Ling (1776-1839) revolutionized bodywork by adapting a series of techniques that spread across Europe and Russia and came to be known as Swedish massage. In 1894, the first professional massage organization was founded in Britain. So you can see, massage has a very long and rich history that evolved over thousands of years and remains an integral part of our current healthcare practice.

Source: Introduction to Massage Therapy by Mary Beth Braun and Stephanie Simonson

Am I getting ahead of myself?

Have you ever frantically searched for your glasses while wearing them? Tried to start the car while the brake was still on? Bumped into someone on the street, but were in too much of a hurry to say "excuse me"? We get ahead of ourselves all the time. We're busy, we're rushed, and we're so focused on later that we forget about now. We become overwhelmed with worry, and in a sense, we lose ourselves. We miss out on the present moment and our opportunities for pleasure, creativity and connections with others.

A few weeks ago, I was trying to do so many things at once and became frantic because I couldn't find my cell phone. My anxiety went through the roof as I imagined that I had lost my phone forever, and it wasn't until several minutes later that I realized I was clutching it my hand! I took this as a sign - a big red, flashing sign that read "SLOW DOWN." By choosing to slow down, we are able to put things into perspective - appreciate the good things and clear-headedly deal with problems as they come up. Allow any setbacks to remind you to come back to now. You may find yourself happier, healthier, and more productive. So, go ahead, take a breath, and live in this moment.

What's new with me ...

I took a delightful weekend trip to Lancaster, PA with my sisters and niece. We made friends with the farm animals, went for a buggy ride, and got lost in a giant corn maze. I held a baby chick that curled up and fell fast asleep in my hands! He must have known I was a massage therapist.

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American Massage Therapy Association

Swedish InstituteCertified Myoskeletal TherapistNational Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork

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