The Art of Massage
J. H. Kellogg, M.D.
MASSAGE, or systematic rubbing and manipulation of the tissues
of the body, is probably one of the oldest of all means used for the relief
of bodily infirmities. There is evidence that massage was employed by
the Chinese as early as 3000 years ago. Their literature contains treatises
upon the subject written some thousands of years ago. An ancient Chinese book
entitled, “The Cong-Fou of the Tao-Tse, " of which a French translation appeared
about a century ago, was probably the foundation both of our modern massage
and of the manual Swedish movements so admirably elaborated and systematized
by Ling. Massage is still very extensively employed by the Chinese, and
also by the Japanese, who doubtless learned the art from the Chinese.
Among the Japanese, massage is employed almost exclusively
by blind men, who go about the streets soliciting patronage by shouting in a
loud voice the words Amma ! amma ! (shampooing, or massage). Fig.
1 represents one of these blind masseurs crying his vocation upon the streets
of Mito,.Japan. Fig. 2 shows one of them administering massage to a lady patient.
These engravings are photo-reproductions from photographs kindly sent to the
writer by a friend in Japan. The same friend also sent the following description
of his personal experience with Japanese massage, which was administered to
him by a first-class manipulator, for the relief of a severe cold accompanied
with fever: -
“The shampooer sat in Japanese fashion at the side of the
patient, as the latter lay on a futon (thick comforter or quilt) on the
floor, and began operations on the arm; then took the back and the back of the
neck, afterward the bead (top and forehead), and ended with the legs.
On the arms, back, back of the neck, and legs, he used sometimes the tips of
his fingers, sometimes the palms or the backs of his hands, sometimes his knuckles,
sometimes his fists. The movements consisted of pinching, slapping, stroking,
rubbing, knuckling, kneading, thumping, drawing in the hand, and snapping the
knuckles. The rubbing in the vicinity of the ribs was slightly ticklish, and
the knuckling on the back of the neck, and at the side of the collarbone, a
little painful. On the head he used gentle tapping, a little pounding with his
knuckles, stroking with both hands, holding the head tight for a moment, grasping
it with one hand and stroking with the other. The operator seemed to have
a good practical knowledge of physiology and anatomy, and certainly succeeded
in driving away the headache and languor, in producing a pleasant tingling throughout
the body, and in restoring the normal circulation of the blood. He is to be
criticised, however, for one serious fault in his operations, - that of shampooing
down, instead of up. A portion of the good done is thus neutralized, one object
of scientific massage being to help back toward the center the blood which is
lingering in the superficial veins."
I do not agree with my friend's criticism of the mode of
manipulation employed by the Japanese masseur, who seems to have been more skilled
than most of our own manipulators, since be was apparently aware of the fact
that the limbs should be rubbed down, rather than up, for the relief of the
condition of feverishness and irritation from which his patient was suffering.
Massage has been employed from the most ancient times by
the Hindoos and Persians, who still practice it, some of their native masseurs
being possessed of remarkable skill. The ancient Greeks and Romans also
employed massage constantly in connection with their famous baths. Hippocrates,
the renowned Greek physician, made extensive use of this mode of treatment,
designating it anatripis. He evidently appreciated the principles of
the art very well, as he directed that friction should be applied centripetally,
or in the direction of the veins. That he understood the effects of different
modes of application is shown by the following quotation from his works: “ Friction
can relax, brace, incarnate (fleshen), attenuate; hard, braces ; soft, relaxes;
much, attenuates; and moderate, thickens." [Genuine Works of Hippocrates,
Vol. 11, page 16.] Hippocrates learned massage, as well as gymnastics,
from his teacher Herodicus, the founder of medical gymnastics. Asclepiades,
another eminent Greek physician, held the practice of this art in such esteem
that he abandoned the use of medicines of all sorts, relying exclusively upon
massage, which he claimed effects a cure by restoring to the nutritive fluids
their natural, free movement. It was this physician who made the discovery
that sleep might be induced by gentle stroking.
Plutarch tells us that Julius Caesar, a century before the
Christian era, had himself pinched all over daily for neuralgia. It is
well known that Julius Caesar was subject to a severe nervous disorder (epilepsy),
and it is more than probable that his prodigious labors were only rendered possible
by the aid derived from massage. Pliny, the great Roman naturalist, had
himself rubbed for the relief of chronic asthma. Arrian recommended massage
for horses and dogs, asserting that it would strengthen the limbs, render the
hair soft and glossy, and cleanse the skin. After giving directions for massage
of the legs, abdomen, and back, he directed that the treatment should be terminated
in the following peculiar manner, which indicates that he understood the value
of nerve-stretcbing, at least for dogs: “ Lift her up by the tail, and give
her a good stretching ; let her go, and she will shake herself and show that
she liked the treatment."
Celsus, the most eminent of all Roman physicians, who lived
at the beginning of the present era, was very familiar with massage, and used
great discretion in its application. He recommended manipulations of the
head for the relief of headache, and general manipulations to restore the surface
circulation in fever, making this wise remark: " A patient is in a bad state
when the exterior of the body is cold, the interior hot with thirst; but, indeed,
also, the only safeguard lies in rubbing." Galen, the greatest physician of
his time, in the second century recommended massage in many diseases.
He seems to have had a good understanding of the various forms of friction and
A sort of percussion, called whipping, was employed by the
ancient Roman physicians in various diseases, and is still used by the Laplanders
and the Finns, who beat the body with bundles of birch twigs.
The natives of the Sandwich Islands have, from the most ancient
times, employed massage, which they term lomi-lomi. They frequently
administer lomi-lomi to an exhausted swimmer while in the water, supporting
him with their hands until his forces are rallied by the manipulations.
The Maoris of New Zealand practice massage under the name of romi-romi.
The accompanying cut (Fig. 3) shows a Polynesian, a son of a chief, administering
the treatment. The natives of Tonga Island employ massage under the name
of toogi-toogi, the literal meaning of which is "to beat," for
the relief of sleeplessness, fatigue, etc. Melee denotes rubbing
with the palm, and fota kneading with the thumb and fingers.
Paracelsus, the prince of charlatans, who flourished at Basle,
Switzerland, four hundred years ago, made great use of massage, and taught it
to his pupils in the medical school of that city. Massage has been used
in France for two hundred years. It was much employed in the early part
of the present century by eminent English surgeons, especially in the treatment
of sprains and other injuries of the joints. Its use in modern times,
however, is chiefly due to its. systematic development and employment by Mezger,