Massage therapy, and bodywork in general is one of the oldest health care practices known to history. References to massage are found in Chinese medical texts more than 4,000 years old. Massage has been advocated in Western health care practices at least since the time of Hippocrates, the “Father of Medicine.” In the fourth century B.C. Hippocrates wrote, “The physician must be acquainted with many things and assuredly with rubbing” (the ancient Greek term for massage was rubbing).
The roots of modern, scientific massage therapy go back to Per Henrik Ling (1776–1839), a Swede, who developed an integrated system consisting of massage and active and passive exercises. Ling established the Royal Central Gymnastic Institute in Sweden in 1813 to teach his methods.
Modern, scientific massage therapy was introduced in the United States in the 1850s by two New York physicians, brothers George and Charles Taylor, who had studied in Sweden. Although there were periods when massage fell out of favor, in the 1960s it made a comeback as a tool for relaxation, and alternative healing. Today, massage is one of the most popular healing modalities. It is used by conventional, as well as alternative, medical communities and is now covered by some health insurance plans..