The Timeline History of Massage

timeline history of massageThis Timeline History of Massage was one of the most popular pages on my first website which is now moved to this site – .  Please read carefully!  This information is found in many textbooks but it is INACCURATE!!!  There is no accurate history of massage.  Also many sites have copied this timeline which is a violation of copyright laws.  You can create your own timeline history of massage but you CANNOT COPY and PASTE this into your own website!  I am now taking legal action against many of those sites and resurrecting this page!

You can see clearly from the Internet Archives the Original Post in 2001 – See the History of Massage in the Archives

ELAP Recommendation:

Having completed 1.5 hours of instruction on the evolution of massage and bodywork, the learner is expected to:
•Demonstrate knowledge of the terms and concepts related to the evolution of massage and bodywork including historical events, knowledge of the current structure of the massage and bodywork profession including massage as part of health care, relevant organizations, work environments, client types, and their needs and wants, on a written examination.

The History of Massage, Bodywork and Related Modalities
© 1999-2014 Julie Onofrio now
Please note:  If you would like to use this material, please include a reference to this website.  Thanks.

The information in this timeline is from many sources, mainly massage textbooks, massage books and massage school manuals.  There are many contradictions in the various sources and much misinformation included in those sources.  So that means that this chart is quite inaccurate even though you will find the same information in various sources. I know little about history myself.  This information will hopefully give some background and intrigue your interests to pursue more information on the history of massage, bodywork and other related modalities.  

3000 BC– Chinese: Cong-Fu of the Toa-Tse. Oldest known book written about massage.  Translated to French in 1700’s.

2760– Nei Ching describes therapeutic touch

2500 BC – Egyptians created reflexology.

2000 BC- First Writings about Massage

1800 BC– Ayurvedic. Art of Life book that included massage techniques.  In India, the focus was on sensual massage aspects.  Ayur-Veda is a code of life and it deals with rebirth, renunciation, salvation, soul, purpose of life, maintenance of mental health, prevention and treatment of diseases.

1600 B.C.- in Egypt the first record of chemotherapy being employed as a treatment for cancer

1555 BC– A medical papyri contains remedies for all types of illnesses and the methods of application are similar to the ones used in Aromatherapy and Herbal medicine today.

1000 BC– Homer wrote about an oily medium used for massage

776 BC–   Olympic Games.  Athletes massaged prior to their events.

604-531 BC – The founder of Taoism is believed to be Lao-Tse

500 BC–  Herodicus– prescribed gymnastics to heal. Considered to be the founder of medical Gymnastics.

460-380 BCHippocrates was taught by Herodicus.  Used Friction to treat sprains and dislocations (called anatripsis-Greek for friction).  Thought that disease resulted from natural causes and the body has the power to heal itself.  Wrote code of ethics that became the Hippocratic Oath. Hippocrates said: hard rubbing binds…much rubbing causes parts to waste…and moderate rubbing makes them grow.

200 BC– Greek physician Galen used natural magnets to relieve pain in treating many illnesses.

200 BC– The Huangdi Nei Jing (Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic) is the earliest surviving canonical text of traditional Chinese medicine. Anmo is referred to in 30 different chapters of the Nei Jing.

100-44 BC– Romans.  Julius Caesar used Massage therapy to relieve his neuralgia and epileptic seizures.  Was thought to have been “Pinched” every day.

130 AD- 201 AD – Galen. Originally from Greece.  Physician for the school of gladiators who were rubbed before fighting.  Wrote book on manual medicine.

90 BC – Chinese created acupuncture.

25 BC- 50 AD–  Aulus Cornelius Celsius. Roman Physician.  Wrote De Medicina (8 textbooks with a lot of information on massage).

100’s AD – First schools of massage were developed in china

228 AD-337 AD–  The Roman Emperor Constantine condemned the baths and gymnasiums as he thought they added to the abuse of sex.

589 AD-617 AD–  Sui Dynasty already had knowledge of Massage used as therapy.

600’s – Japanese developed shiatsu (finger pressure or acupressure), anma is massage in Japanese.

980 AD-1037 AD–  Avicenna, Persian medic, wrote the Canon of Medicine during the crusades. May have been the first used the process known as distillation to distill essence of rose, although it probably took many years to perfect the process

1300-1368– Guy deChauliac  wrote a book on surgery mentioning bodywork as an adjunct to surgery.

1368-1644 In the Ming Dynasty, pediatric massage (which, for the first time, was referred to as “tuina”) evolved into a highly systematic treatment modality which is still popular today.

1517-1590– Ambroise Pare, French barber surgeon, raised awareness of the use of massage

1569– Girolamo Mercuriale wrote the first sports medicine book.

1564-1626- Lord Francis Bacon observed that massage had benefits enhancing circulation.

1608-1679 – Giovanni Alfonso Borelli studied muscular contraction.

1660-1742 – Prussia.  Friedrich Hoffman, physician to King of Prussia recommended rubbing and gymnastics for the royal court.

1742-1823 –  John Grosvenor, English surgeon practiced healing with hands.

1776-1839 – Per Henrik Ling- fencing master and gymnast studied massage after he cured himself of rheumatism in his arm.    Developed a system of  Medical Gymnastics.  Per Henrik ling is not the father of Swedish massage!!

1800’s-Reiki is believed to date back to early Tibetan healing practices. Discovered in the 1800’s by a Japanese philosopher and Christian seminary educator, Dr. Mikao Usui

1813– Per Henrik Ling formed the Royal Gymnastic Central Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.  His students carried on his work after his death.

1828-1917– American osteopathic medicine was begun by Andrew Taylor Still.   For more information see in their early manual medicine collection. 

1837 – Ling’s disciple, M. LeRon brought Movement Cure to Russia, St. Petersburg.

1839-1909 – Johann Mezger. Holland.  Brought medical massage to scientific community.  Started using the terms effleurage, petrissage and tapotement.

1850s– scientific massage therapy was introduced in the United States by two New York physicians, brothers George and Charles Taylor, who had studied in Sweden.

1856 – Mathias Roth, English physician, taught Charles Fayette Taylor and George Henry Taylor who brought massage to the US

1852-1943 – John Harvey Kellogg, Battle Creek Sanitarium used massage and hydrotherapy.  Published magazine called “Good Health”

1850s– Karl von Reichenbach discovered kerosene and paraffin


See also: The History of Massage Through Google Books


1879 – Douglas Graham-described lomi lomi and wrote a history of massage. May 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 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.

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

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

1800’s-Canadian Deep Muscle This technique addresses specific muscles and muscle groups. The practitioners are trained to fix specific problems. It is a fundamental technique that offers fast results for both pain and stress. This form of cross fiber massage was first written about in the late 1800’s in New York City.

1900 – Albert Hoffa- wrote book “Technike der Massage”.

>1900s early- Jin shin jyutsu, the “art of circulation awakening,” was developed in Japan by Jiro Murai and brought to the United States in the 1960s by Mary Iino Burmeister.

1900’s early- The Alexander Technique was developed by an Australian actor F.M. Alexander

1907 Edgar Ferdinand Cyriax–  Used Ling’s Swedish Movement Cure and Mechanotherapeutics.

1907-Naprapathy originated by a chiropractor in
Chicago. This also concerns connective tissue.

1913 – Dr. William Fitzgerald rediscovered Reflexology and called it Zone Therapy.

1915  – First state to implement licensing was Ohio.

1916 – First licensed massage therapist in OH – Agnes Forbes
See article on Agnes Forbes  (PDF)

1917– James Mennell. London. St. Thomas Hospital.  Did physical treatment by movement, manipulation and massage.

W.W.I-  Swedish massage used for rehabilitation of injured soldiers.

1927 – New York State Society of Medical Massage Therapists (first massage association)

1929 Elizabeth Dicke, German physical therapist created “Bindgewebs massage” or connective tissue massage.  Used reflex zones.

1930’s – Hospitals staffed Physical Therapists who were doing massage.

1930Neuromuscular Therapy created  by Stanley Leif.  For a more detailed history of Neuromuscular Therapy see Judith Walker Delaney’s website

1932 Emil Voder. Danish physiologist created Manual Lymph Drainage.

1934 –  Wilhelm Reich – Austrian psychoanalysis. Freud’s student.  Used Somato techniques to dissolve muscular armor. Attempted to cure neuroses by releasing their corresponding muscle tensions by using breath, movement and physical manipulation. The community was outraged at the thought of using physical contact. He was sent to prison for his conflicts and died there.
Bioenergetics created by Alexander Lowen, emerged from Reich’s work.
Also wrote “Joy – The surrender of the body to life“, Depression and the Body: The Biological Basis of Faith and Reality “Depression has become so common that one psychiatrist even describes it as a “perfectly normal” reaction, provided, of course, it does not “interfere…,
The “Language of the Body“.

1937-A French chemist, Rene Maurice Gattefosse, began his research into the healing powers of essential oils after burning his hand in his laboratory and immersing in it in lavender oil and being impressed by how quickly the burn healed. He published a book about the anti -microbial effects of the oils and coined the word Aromatherapy.

1939 – The Florida State Massage Therapy Association Inc. (FSMTA) was first organized on June 15, 1939 one of the oldest massage organization, with 85 charter members. The first Massage Act was passed by the Florida Legislature in 1943. 

1939 – Florida, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pennsylvania all have state licensing.

1940James Cyriax, son of Edgar Ferdinand Cyriax, and British Osteopath, created deep transverse friction.

1943 Chicago American Association of Masseurs and Masseuses formed.  Later to become American Massage Therapy AssociationDues were $.50.   29 members

1943 – Florida Massage Regulation Started

1943 – HI Massage Legislation

1946 – First AAMM (AMTA ) Conference

1949 – Massage Registration Act formulated by AMM.

1944 – Harold Storms- Storms technique for fibrositic nodules.

1950’s –  Francis Tappan and Gertrude Beard wrote books and articles on massage techniques.

1952 Janet Travell researches Triggerpoints.

1952-Hoshino Therapy developed by Tomezo Hoshino, Hoshino Therapy is an official medical therapy in Argentina.

1956 – Margaret Knott and Dorothy Vass wrote a book called “Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation”.

1959- North Dakota Massage Legislation

1960’s – Albert Baumgartner used Massage in Athletics.

1960’sEsalen became a center to explore human potential.  Ida Rolf did her first trainings there. Deane Juhan worked there. Bernie Gunther trained people to do massage.

1964 – Applied Kinesiology was founded by Chiropractor George Goodheart

1966 Raymond Nimmo-Wrote book ” The Receptor Tonus Method “, which came from his work with “noxious generative points”.

1960′s late- John Barnes,developed Myofascial Release Therapy 


See also:  More in depth History 1960-2010

1967 – Montana Massage Legislation Created

1967 – New York Massage Legislation

1971-Core Energetics Started by Dr. John Pierralcos in 1971, core energetics adds a more spiritual aspect to bioenergetics.
Core Energetics: Developing the Capacity to Love and Heal
by John C Pierrakos

1972 –  Moshe Feldenkrais, writes Awareness Through Movement” which follows up to his 1949 publication The Body and Mature Behavior.
The Potent Self: A Study of Spontaneity and Compulsion by Moshe Feldenkrais, Michaeleen Kimmey .  Studies of sensory awareness and movement re-education somewhat based on F.M. Alexander’s work.

1973-Zero Balancing was developed by osteopath and acupuncturist Dr. Fritz Smith 

1976Myotherapy (book) developed by Bonnie Prudden

1977– Aston-Patterning is developed by Judith Aston (form of rolfing) 

1978– Joseph Heller started Hellerwork (form of rolfing) 

1978-Soma Neuromuscular Integration developed by Bill Williams, Ph.D, one of the first students of Ida Rolf

1980’s Association of Bodywork and Massage Practitioners formed.

1980sWatsu (water therapy) was developed by Harold Dull 

1980’s-Taws Method (Soft Tissue Release) was developed by Stuart Taws (his website), a British sports rehabilitation therapist now residing in America

1981 Lauren Berry, a physical therapist and mechanical engineer, recorded his methods of manipulating joints, “The Berry Method, Volume I”

1981–  Lawrence H. Jones identifies tenderpoints and develops “Strain- Counterstrain” techniques of treating points.

1983Janet Travell writes book. with David Simons.  “Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction:  The Triggerpoint Manual : Volumes I & 2

1985 – 10 states have state massage licensing.

1989 – AMTA opened Chicago Office

1990’s–  David Palmer creates and markets On Site Massage using a massage chair.

1990– protocol for fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) defined by the American College of Rheumatology 

1991 –  Touch Research Institute created.

1992 – National Certification .  see also: licensing and legislation issues

1997 – Business Mastery by Cherie Sohnen-Moe by Lippencott Williams and Wilkins.  This was one of the first books on business for massage therapists and is now it it’s 4th edition.

1999 – Minnesota implements Freedom of Access legislation.

2001– CAM law activated in Minnesota


See also:

History of Massage Therapy: 1960 -2014

History of Massage Therapy : 2010 –  Present

History of Sports Massage

History of AMTA

History of Hospital Based Massage


2 thoughts on “The Timeline History of Massage”

  1. I see that you left out one of the Most if not the Most Important Technique, The Pfrimmer Technique (Pfrimmer Deep Muscle Therapy) has proven over and over to be a technique that corrects serious muscle conditions. I have see no other Technique that can achieve the same permanent results as the Pfrimmer Technique. Your History is of Massage is good but very brief. There is so much more information of massage from each Country’s History that should be included, but then it will be a book. Thank you for your post

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