The history of curative massage in human history stretches right back to the origins of Western medicine in early Greece. During the 5th century BC in Greece, the man considered to be the father of Western medicine was Hippocrates, and he was quoted as saying, “A physician must be experienced in many things but assuredly also in rubbing.” He believed that massage, as well as fresh air, decent food, personal hygiene, art, respite, and socializing with friends – is intrinsic to remedying disease in humans.

Aesculapius or Asclepius was a god of healing in ancient Greece, known as the “Blameless Physician”. However some historians believe that this mythical healer was in fact confused with a physician of the time by the same name. Some records show that the physician was a therapeutic healer who used techniques such as massage to heal. In many ways Aesculapius could be considered the founder of alternative medicine, though at the time it would have been considered traditional medicine. The symbol of modern western medicine – two serpents wrapped round a staff was originally a depiction of Aesculapius.

Henrik Ling born in Ljunga in the south of Sweden in the year 1776 is respected as the father of modern Western massage. Henrik said, “We ought not to consider the organs of the body as the lifeless forms of a mechanical mass, but as the living, active instruments of the soul.” This statement was made at the time of the Industrial Revolution, a time when machines rose from the creative minds of entrepreneur Western capitalists. Henrik was the person who discovered the lymphatic system in humans.

It was after the age of Hippocrates and Aesculapius that civilization started to see the human body like the machines that the Industrial Revolution had produced. Seeing people as fueled by energy in the same way as engines are by coal, in fact this mathematical mechanical representation stretched to define the whole universe in the ensuing years as the idea took root and spread throughout modern knowledge. This drew a divide between the holistic view of humans (as body, mind and spirit) and the modern description.

Modern equipment offered incites into the inner workings of the human body, curved glass and the scaling down of tools allowed people to see microscopic ventricles and bacteria. The printing press, arguably one of the most important inventions in terms of global impact, allowed for knowledge to be spread at affordable prices for everyone. Universities and a hunger for understanding proliferated leading to the questioning of ancient methods developed by people such as Galen (a famous physician to the Gladiators).

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