Oil massage dates back thousands of years when the ‘laying on of hands’ was used to heal and soothe the sick. To the ancient Greek and Roman physicians, massage was one of the principal means of healing and relieving pain. After the fall of Rome in the 5th century AD, little was heard of massage in Europe due to the contempt for the pleasures of the flesh.
It was revived in the 16th century by a French doctor, Ambroise Paré and then at the beginning of the 19th century, a Swede named Per Henrik Ling developed what is now known as Swedish massage : a synthesis of Chinese, Egyptian, Greek and Roman techniques. The first college offering massage as part of the curriculum was established in Stockholm in 1813 and since then spas and institutes have sprung up all over Europe as the therapeutic value of massage has again become recognised.
Swedish massage is the foundation for other types of Western massage, including sports, deep tissue and aromatherapy. It is the most widely offered and best known type of massage, using a firm but gentle pressure with long, flowing ‘effleurage’ strokes to stimulate the circulation, ease muscle aches and tension, improve flexibility and promote relaxation.