History of Massage 1850-1899

1850s– Karl von Reichenbach discovered kerosene and paraffin

1858 – Bindgewebs term – The term itself was first mentioned by Johannes Peter Müller (14 July 1801 – 28 April 1858) was a German physiologist, comparative anatomist,  ichthyologist, and herpetologist according to Wikipedia. Later became Connective Tissue Massage created by Emily Dicke.

1858 – Gerard : Des frictions et du massage dans le traitement de l’entorse chez l’homme. Gaz, hebdomad ., No. 46, 1858.

1859 – Elleaume : Du massage dans l’entorse. Gaz. des Hôpitaux , No. 151

1859 – “ The Cure of Disease by Manipulation , commonly called Medical Rubbing. Pamphlet written by Mr. John Beveridge, son of Mr. Beveridge of Edinburgh.

1863 – According to Douglas Graham in A Practical Treatise on Massage Its History, Mode of Application, and Effects, Indications and Contra-indications; with Results in Over Fourteen Hundred CasesBy Douglas Graham · 1884 Google Books)

Schmidt’s Jahrbücher: “ It is but recently that massage has gained an extensive scientific consideration, since it has passed out of the hands of rough and ignorant empirics into those of educated physicians ; and upon the result of recent scientific investigations it has been cultivated into an improved therapeutical system , and has won for itself in its entirety the merit of having become a special branch of the art of medicine. ”


1866 –The Anatriptic art – By Walter Johnson (PDF) Termed Anatripsis by Hippocrates, Triptis by Galen, Frictio by Celsius, Manipulation by Beveridge, and Medical Rubbing in ordinary language, from the earliest times to the present day.

The processes of Friction and Unction are broadly distinguished by Celsus, who states that the latter is advantageous in many cases in which the former is quite inadmissible. And this distinction is indeed useful for medical purposes, though it is true that there can be no unction (which is defined to be the rubbing in of greasy substances) without friction of some sort ; while friction was understood by ancient medical writers to be usually performed by the aid of oil or fat. Friction , therefore , might also be termed unction. In the operation of friction , however, the greasy substance is used merely to keep the skin from chafing ; but in unction no more friction is employed than is necessary to apply the oil. Friction may be extremely gentle or extremely rough — may be used for a few minutes, or for hours continuously ; but the friction employed in unction is always gentle , and generally of short duration . But as I said before, this is a medical distinction —a distinction which naturally would very commonly be disregarded in ordinary language. The practice of friction and unction , in other words rubbing of the body with greasy substances, had its origin in ante-historical ages, for the oldest writers whose works are in our hands speak of the custom as one in daily use . It was employed sometimes as a remedy, sometimes as a hygienic mean, sometimes as a luxury, and sometimes it had a symbolic religious sense . In the religious rite, the oil was usually poured over the body , and for the most part over the head. But it is my intention here to disregard unction proper, in all its applications, and to speak of that kind of unction only which owes the main part of its virtue to the accompanying friction .

1868 – Mezger . De Behandeling van Distorsio pedis met Frictien. Am

1869 – Étude pratique sur les frictions et le massage, ou Guide du médecin masseur By Marie Victor Adrien Phélippeaux · 1869 Google Books

1873 – William H Monroe, MD. Monroes’s Philosophy of Cures. (Google Books) Case studies and testimonials.

What the nerves want is not less action , but healthy action. Disentangle those fibres that are knit together, disturbing circulation, which is impeded in its flow , causing suffusion in some parts, with a lack in others , and the cause of the nervous irritation will be removed, nervous harmony will be restored, the blood will flow freely and equally , and sleep and relief from pain will come as if by magic.

1870 – According to Douglas Graham in A Practical Treatise on Massage Its History, Mode of Application, and Effects, Indications and Contra-indications; with Results in Over Fourteen Hundred CasesBy Douglas Graham · 1884 Google Books)

Dr. N. B. Emerson gave a very interesting account of the lomi- lomi of the Sandwich Islanders. He describes it as a luxurious and healthful form of passive motion which the Hawaiians bestow upon each other as an act of kindness and their crowning act of generous hospitality to a well -behaved stranger. When foot- sore and weary in every muscle so that no position affords rest, and sleep cannot be obtained , it relieves the stiffness, lameness, and soreness and soothes to sleep, so that unpleasant effects of excessive exercise are not felt next day; but in their stead a suppleness of muscle and ease of joint entirely unwonted . Moreover, the lomi- lomi is capable of appeasing and satisfying that muscular sense of ennui which results from a craving for active physical exercise. The Hawaiians have an appreciation of the physiological wants of the wearied system which Dr. Emerson thinks it would be well for the people of other civilized nations to imitate. They have various ways of administering the lomi- lomi. When one is about to receive it he lies down upon a mat; and he is immediately taken in hand by the artist ( as Dr. Emerson calls the person who lomi- lomies) generally an elderly and experienced man or woman. The process is spoken of as being neither that of kneading, squeezing, nor rubbing, but now like one, and now like the other. Those skilled in the art come to acquire a kind of tact that enables them to graduate the touch and force to the wants of different cases. The natives are such firm believers in it that they sometimes defeat the ends of the surgeon, who would secure perfect rest for fractures, by untimely manipulations. The Hawaiians are a race of swimmers and to a foreigner they seem amphibious. When wrecked they sometimes swim long distances, and if one of their number becomes exhausted they sustain him in the water and lomi- lomi him at the same time. Refreshed by this they all proceed on their watery way together.

The people of the Sandwich Islands are of normal stature, strength , and size ; but the chiefs are so much larger, handsomer, and more magnificent in muscular development that foreigners would think they belonged to a superior conquering race did they not know otherwise. The chiefs are about twenty – five per cent larger than the subjects. The only way in which Dr. Emerson can account for this is that they are better and more abundantly fed, and have themselves constantly lomi-lomied. How much of the virtues of the lomi- lomi are due to the principles of animal magnetism, Dr. Emerson leaves to those to determine who are versed in the matter. Who are they ?

1874 – book – Northern California, Oregon and the Sandwich Islands talks about Lomi-Lomi. Gutenberg Project

“ Wherever you stop for lunch or for the night, if there are native people near, you will be greatly refreshed by the application of lomi-lomi. Almost everywhere you will find some one skilled in this peculiar and , to tired muscles, delightful and refreshing treatment. To be lomi-lomied
you lie down upon a mat, or undress for the night. The less clothing you have on, the more perfectly the operation can be performed. To you thereupon comes a stout native with soft, fleshy hands, but a strong grip, and beginning with your head and working down slowly over the whole body, seizes and squeezes with a quite peculiar art every tired muscle, working and kneading with indefatigable patience, until in half an hour, whereas you were weary and worn out, you find yourself fresh, all soreness and weariness absolutely and entirely gone, and mind and body soothed to a healthful and refreshing sleep. The lomi- lomi is used not only by the natives, but among almost, all the foreign residents ; and not merely to procure relief from weariness consequent on over-exertion, but to cure headaches, to relieve the aching of neuralgic and rheumatic pains, and by the luxurious as one of the pleasures of life. I have known it to relieve violent headache in a very short time. The chiefs keep skilful lomi- lomi men and women in their retinues, and the late king who was for some years too stout to take exercise, and yet was a gross feeder, had himself lomi- lomied after every meal as a means of helping his digestion. It is a device for relievingpain and weariness which seems to have no injurious reaction and no draw- back but one-it is said to fatten the subjects of it.”

1875 – Rest in the Treatment of Nervous Disease, Séguin’s Series of American Clinical Lectures,” Vol. I., No. iv. by Dr S. Weir Mitchell (Wright State University PDF)

1876 – Mosengeil. Ueber Massage, deren Technik , Wirkung und Indi cationen . Archiv für klinische Chirurgie, Berlin 1876 , Band XIX

1877 – book: FAT AND BLOOD: AN ESSAY ON THE TREATMENT OF CERTAIN FORMS OF NEURASTHENIA AND HYSTERIA. by Dr.S. Weir Mitchell, of Philadelphia. Archive.org or Project Gutenberg. Very specific massage method provided as part of his “Rest Cure”

The methods comprise an original combination of previous well -known agencies: namely, seclusion ,rest, and excessive feeding made available by rapid nutritive changes caused by the systematic use of massage and electricity.

The two aids which by degrees I learned to call upon with confidence to enable me to use rest without doing harm are massage and electricity. We have first to deal with massage, and I give some care to the description of details, because even now it is imperfectly understood in this country, and because I wish to emphasize some facts about it which are not well known, I think, on either side of the Atlantic.

Massage in some form has long been in use in the East, and is well known as the lommi-lommi of the slothful inhabitants of the Sandwich Islands. In Japan it is reserved as an occupation for the blind, whose delicate sense of feeling might, I should think, very well fit them for this task. It is, however, in these countries less used in disease than as the luxury of the rich; nor can I find in the few books on the subject that it has been resorted to habitually as a tonic in Europe, or otherwise than as a means of treating local disorders.

Anne Stiles, “The Rest Cure, 1873-1925”

This essay discusses the rest cure, a popular treatment for nervous illness pioneered by Philadelphia neurologist Silas Weir Mitchell in the 1860s and ‘70s. Emphasis will be placed on the spread of the cure to Britain and the role of the rest cure in literature.

In her autobiography, The Living of Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1935), Gilman describes her experiences as follows:

I was put to bed, and kept there. I was fed, bathed, rubbed, and responded with the vigorous body of twenty-six. As far as he could see there was nothing the matter with me, so after a month of this agreeable treatment he sent me home with this prescription:

“Live as domestic a life as possible. Have your child with you all the time. . . . Lie down an hour after each meal. Have but two hours’ intellectual life a day. And never touch pen, brush, or pencil as long as you live.” (96)

1879 – Douglas Graham-described lomi lomi and wrote a book called the “History of massage”(which I have not been able to find online). Is often said to have been first to use massage in USA.

1880 – Mary Putnam Jacobi and Victoria A White in New York City.  Medical Doctors and professors who researched the benefits of massage and ice packs in the management of anemia.

1884 – Schreiber. Traité pratique de massage et de gymnastique médi cale, 1884. Google Books. French.

1884 – Professor Charcot. French Physician taught Sigmund Freud.  Though French doctors should use massage more.

1884 – Massage Scandals in Europe.  Physicians became skeptical of claims made by massage therapist and accused practitioners of stealing patients

1884 – Douglas Graham, MD (1848-1928) writes first edition of Treatise on Massage. (Google books) which also gives more insights on the history of massage.

1885 – Tracts on Massage By Albert Reibmayr · 1885 Google Books, Translated from German.

Besides all this , Massage possesses the great advantage of being a method of practice which suits our skeptical age. Its results follow its employment so immediately-being often not simply visible to the eye, but recognizable by the touch , and even susceptible of measurement — that it must disarm the most complete skeptic , no doubt being possible as to the “ post hoc propter hoc.” Farther, this therapeutical system answers better than any other to the more purely mechanical theory of the physiological processes of the human organism which are to -day in vogue. All these influences conspired to aid the rapid spread of massage, and its recognition by the medical world finally assured its success

1885 – Reibmayer. Le massage par le médecin , physiologie, manuel operatoire, indications, Vienna , 1883 – 1884. French edition by Leon
Petit, 1885 .

1887 – Treatment By Massage by Walter Mendelson. www.archive.org

Douglas Graham, MD. Wrote the first case studies on massage therapy. His training in manual therapy came from William H. Monroe (his father-in-law) who created a treatment method he called the nervous adjustment cure.

1887 – Manual of Treatment by Massage and Methodical Exercise By Joseph Screiber Read for freeDownload PDF

1889 – Head Zones discovered. after by Sir Henry Head (1861–1940) who described them in 1889. Today Head zones are thought to coincide to a large extent with dermatomes , that is, areas of skin innervated by one and the same spinal nerve. Later led to Connective Tissue Massage or Bindgewebs Massage.

1893 – Dr. Harry Kellgren, (taught James Cyriax) for most useful aid in many directions, including the classification and description of shakings, vibrations, and frictions.

1894 – Society of Trained Masseuses formed in Britain. Set up study of massage along with prerequisites for education and criteria for school recognition.

1895 – Sigmund Freud.  Used Massage Therapy to treat hysteria. Studies in Hysteria.  Postulated that what we did not or will not confront in our lives would be buried in the body in the unconscious mind.

1895 – The practice of massage; its physiological effects and therapeutic uses: by Eccles, Arthur Symons, 1855-1900 (Archive.org PDF)

1895 -Harvey Kellogg -“The Art of Massage” -Full text available online at
The Meridian Institute.

Johann Georg Mezger Dutch physician (1839-1909)

Tracts on Massage By Albert Reibmayr · 1885 says this about Mezger

To Dr. MEZGER, of Amsterdam , and his pupils , BERGHMAN and HELLEDAY, is due the credit of having reduced massage to a system founded upon the basis of numerous experiments, and of earning for it the reputation of being a truly reliable remedial agency. His system possesses the great advantage of being as simple as it is clear, and should, therefore, be accepted by all adherents of this method of practice.

1896 – Handbook of Massage By Gustaf Mauritz Norström (Google Books). Studied with Metzger. Describes the 4 basic massage movements in detail.

Massages is a therapeutical agent; it is employed in order to alleviate pain , and, above all, to establish a cure. Some times, too, it is rendered serviceable for diagnostic purposes. Swelling and infiltration of fissures do not permit us to confirm the diagnosis of a fracture. We have observed that by the aid of effleurage one may accomplish the disappearance of these phenomena. The differential diagnosis is soon established, and the proper measures may be taken. Thus this becomes an application of some value

1898 – Traité théorique et pratique du massage et de la gymnastique médicale suédoiseleur emploi thérapeutique By J. E. Marfort · 1898 Google Books

1898 – Recent Developments in Massage ; HISTORICAL, PHYSIOLOGICAL, MEDICAL AND SURGICAL. Second Edition. by Douglas Graham Google Books PDF supplement to Treatise on Massage (second edition) which was issued in 1890.

“It needs no elaborate demonstration to convince us that massage, by increasing the flow of blood and of lymph, thus causes to be brought a more abundant supply of nourishing material to the parts massed, at the same time removing waste products; that it brings food to the tissues and relieves them of their constipation; that it adds fresh fuel to the fire while removing the ashes, at one and the same time in creasing the functions of the circulation as marketman and as scavenger.” ~ Douglas Graham, MD 1890

1899 – Sir William Bennet- Started a massage department at St. George’s Hospital in London.

1899 – THE ELEMENTS OF KELLGREN’S MANUAL TREATMENT EDGAR F. CYEIAX M.D.Edmburgh, 1001 ; Gymnastic Director, StocMiolm, 1899 NEW YORK WILLIAM WOOD AND COMPANY Google Books –– PDF, text, and other versions Archive.org (PDF)

1899 – Du Massage precoce dans les traumatismes By Joseph Fège · 1899 Google Books