History of Massage

The History of Massage Therapy – Massage CEU

3000 B.C.

Ancient Chinese Massage

The earliest time we know massage was practiced, which began in China.


2700 B.C.

The Yellow Emperor’s Classic Book of Internal Medicine

Someone practicing massage in Ancient China wrote a book titled “The Yellow Emperor’s Classic Book of Internal Medicine”. This was published in the 1900’s in English and is still used today.


2500 B.C.

Ancient Egypt

At this time, massage had spread to Ancient Egypt. Ancient Egyptians were the ones who developed the reflexology technique. Ancient Egyptians actually had tombs painted showing massage therapy.


1500 B.C

Ayurvedic Massage

1000 years later, massage becomes an ancient Hindu practice known as Ayurveda medicine, which is based off the idea that mind, body, and spirit are all connected. Ayurveda means life health.


1000 B.C.

Massage Therapy Japan

Massage has now spread to Japan and is being practiced by Buddhist monks. After being introduced to the Chinese massage modality known as Tui Na, they made their modifications and named it Anma. A man named Tokujiro Namikoshi made other modifications which is now Shiatsu.


800-700 B.C.

History of Massage

Massage therapy has now spread into Greece. The techniques they used are now techniques that we use in Sports massage. Their techniques were focusing on decreasing the knots in the muscle tissues.

500 B.C.


This is the era of Hippocrates. Does that name sound familiar? When doctors graduate, they take the Hippocratic Oath. The Hippocratic Oath was written by Hippocrates. Hippocrates is the founder of modern medicine and used holistic medicine more than conventional medicine.


200-100 B.C.


A physician by the name of Galen began using massage therapy to treat his patients, based off Hippocrates’s principles.



Printing Press

This was when the printing press was invented, which then articles of the effectiveness of massage were able to be seen by people. This caused a lot of interest in massage therapy.



Massage Therapy

This is when massage began as an occupation. Instead of being called massage therapists, they were called rubbers. They were mostly women working in hospitals and independently.



Johan Mezger

Dr. Johann Mezger gave the techniques that are used in massage correct medical terminology. The words effleurage, petrissage, and tapotement all derived from him.




A report was released by the British Medical Association, revealing the abuse of the education and practice of massage. This made it hard for any advancement in massage because people were losing interest.



Per Henrik Ling

There was a decline in massage therapy. Even though this was a dark time for massage therapists, Per Henrik Ling created the massage technique known as Swedish massage in the 1900s.




Dr. Emil Vodder

Dr. Emil Vodder came up with a treatment for chronic lymphedema using massage therapy. At this time, along with the help of other massage therapists, popularity of massage was being restored.



Massage Chair

This is when the American Massage Therapy Association was founded, previously known as The American Association of Masseuses and Masseurs. They began to make educational and ethical standards for the massage therapy field. This is also when the first massage chair was made by FUJIRYOKI, founded by Nobuo Fujimoto. The first chair only had a knead function.



Massage Therapist

Now rubbers, and all other terms, is finally dropped and the name of massage therapists has emerged.



Massage Board Organization

As the massage therapy industry continues to gain legitimacy, more massage therapy organizations began forming. With the emergence of these organizations, 17 states began passing licensing laws regarding massage.



Massage Therapist Olympics

Massage therapy was offered for the first time as a medical service in the Olympics, which took place in Atlanta that year, GA.



As of now, 49 states and territories regulate massage therapy. Each state has their own licensing requirements, along with their own continuing education requirements to maintain your license. Many states currently deem continuing education courses acceptable if they are approved by the NCBTMB. To browse our current NCBTMB courses, please visit our Massage CEU page. 


Here are some links to some popular NCBTMB courses.
Degenerative Disc Disease
Science of Headaches
Future Stem Cell Treatments
Professional Ethics & Boundaries








Benjamin, P. 2015. Brush Up on the History of the Massage Therapy Profession. American Massage Therapy Association.

History of Massage Therapy & How It Evolved. All Allied Health Schools.

History of Massage Therapy… and How Bright the Future Is for Professional Therapists. Massage Education Guide.

The History of Massage Chairs is the History of Fujiiryoki. Fujiiryoki.

2018. History of Massage Therapy. AMC Massage Therapy School Miami.

History of Massage Therapy. Natural Healers.