Online Encyclopedia

MASSAGE

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V17, Page 864 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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MASSAGE. The word massage has of late years come into general use to signify the method of treating disease or other physical conditions by manipulating the muscles and joints. According to Littre the word is derived from the Arabic mass, and has the specific meaning of " pressing the muscular partsof the body' with the hands, and exercising traction on the joints in order to give suppleness and stimulate vitality." It was probably adopted from the Arabian physicians by the French, who have played a leading part in reviving this method of treatment, which has been practised from time immemorial, and by the most primitive people, but has from time to time fallen into disuse among Western nations. In the Odyssey the women are described as rubbing and kneading the heroes on their return from battle. In India, under the name " shampoo " (tshampua), the same process has formed part of the native system of medicine from the most remote times; professional massers were employed there by Alexander the Great in 327 B.C. In China the method is also of great antiquity, and practised by a professional class; the Swedish gymnastic system instituted by Pehr Henrik Ling is derived from the book of Cong-Fou, the bonze of Tao-Sse. Hippocrates describes and enjoins the use of manipulation, especially in cases of stiff joints, and he was followed by other Greek physicians. Oribasius gives an account of the application of friction with the bare hands, which exactly corresponds with the modern practice of massage. It is worthy of note that the treatment, after being held in high esteem by the leading Greek physicians, fell into disrepute with the profession, apparently on account of its association with vicious abuses. The same drawback has made itself felt in the present day, and can only be met by the most scrupulous care in the choice of agents and the manner of their employment. Among the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, and later the Turks, massage came to be part of the ordinary procedure of the bath without any special therapeutic intention, and the usage has survived until to-day; but that mode of application was no doubt a refinement of civilized life. Medical rubbing is older and more elementary than bathing, as we see from its employment by savages. Probably it was evolved independently among different races from the natural instinct—shared by the lower animals—which teaches to rub, press or lick any part of the body in which uneasiness is felt, and is therefore the oldest of all therapeutic means. According to Weiss, the therapeutic use of massage was revived in Europe by Hieronymus Fabricius ab Aquapendente (1537-1619), who applied it to stiff joints and similar conditions. Paracelsus in. his De medicina Aegyptiorum (1591), gives a description of methodical massage as practised by the Egyptians quite on modern lines. Thereafter it appears to have been adopted here and there by individual practitioners, and various references are made to it, especially by French writers. The word " massage " occurs in an essay written by Pierre Adolphe Piorry (1794-1879) for a large encyclopaedia which appeared in 1818, but it was probably used before. The practice was gradually advocated by an increasing number of medical men. In Great Britain it was called " medical rubbing," and at Edinburgh Beveridge had a staff of eight trained male rubbers. A book published by Estradere in 1863 attracted much attention, but the man who contributed most to the modern popularity of massage was Metzger of Amsterdam, who began to use it tentatively in 1853, and then proceeded to study and apply it methodically. He published an essay on the subject in 1868. The modern refinements of the treatment are chiefly due to him: At the same time, its application by Dr Silas Weir Mitchell to hysterical and other nervous conditions, in conjunction with the " rest cure," has done much to make it known. Massage, as now practised, includes several processes, some of which are passive and others active. The former are carried out by an operator, and consist of rubbing and kneading the skin and deeper tissues with the hands, and exercising the joints by bending the patient's limbs. The active movements consist of a special form of gymnastics, designed to exercise particular muscles or groups of muscles. In what is called " Swedish massage " the operator moves the limbs while the patient resists, thus bringing the opposing muscles into play. Some writers insist on confining the word " massage " to the rubbing processes, and use the general term " manipulation" MASSAGETAE-MASSAWA It was against their queen Tomyris that Cyrus undertook the expedition in which according to one story he met his end. In their usages some tribes were nomads like the people of Scythia (q.v.), others with their community of wives and habit of killing and eating their parents recalled the Issedones (q.v.); while the dwellers in the islands of the river were fish-eating savages. Probably the name denoted no ethnic unity, but included all the barbarous north-eastern neighbours of the Persians. Herodotus says they only used gold and copper (or bronze), not silver or iron. Their lavish use of gold has caused certain massive ornaments from southern Siberia, now in the Hermitage at St Petersburg, to be referred to the Massagetae. (E. H. M.)
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