The Art of Massage
The Art of Massage by Gordon Inkeles pdf – 40th anniversary edition
There are ways that men can heal one another without drugs, without words, and without prayer. In the earliest records people used massage to bless each other.
The exquisite blend of science and humanism that thrived in ancient Greece flourished because everyone had plenty of time. Philosophers devoted lifetimes to the revelations of a single intricately woven dialog.
Physicians spent hours working on a patient who complained of sore muscles and joints. Herodicus, one of the masters of Hippocrates in the fifth century BC, used massage to prolong the lives of elderly patients. He was so successful that Plato reproached him for protracting the painful existence of the aged.
And after she had bathed him and anointed him with olive oil, and cast about him a goodly mantle, he came forth from the bath in fashion like the deathless gods.
Despite this criticism he had himself massaged regularly until the day of his death at the age of 104. Socrates felt that massage was only less necessary to human life than wheat and barley, the grains that kept men alive. Greek healers used massage as a primary healing tool and as a means of assuaging pain. ‘The physician must be experienced in many things,’ says Hippocrates, ‘but assuredly also in rubbing. For rubbing can bind a joint that is too loose and loosen a joint that is too rigid.
…Rubbing can make flesh and cause parts to waste. Hard rubbing binds, soft rubbing loosens; much rubbing causes parts to waste; moderate rubbing makes them grow.’ – The movement of the blood was not understood, but Hippocrates emphasized the importance of rubbing toward the heart. Two thousand years later William Harvey demonstrated the principles of blood circulation and immediately lost his practice.
Romans, as you might expect, were crazy for massage. It existed there as a marvelously effective medical technique and as a complement to the courtesan’s art. Once again, only therapeutic records have survived. Cicero, the great orator, philosopher, and statesman (BC 106-43) felt that he owed as much of his health to his anointer as he did to his physician. Regular massage helped improve his feeble health and eventually overcome a violent speech defect. The famous advocate, Pliny, never a strong man, was almost destroyed by a severe illness at the height of his career. He was treated by a physician who cured his patients by rubbing their bodies with olive oil.
Pliny’s health was so dramatically improved by the treatment that he asked the emperor to grant the healer (who, like many physicians in Rome, was either a Jew or a Greek) full Roman citizenship. Julius Caesar had himself massaged daily to relieve headaches and neuralgia.
The Greeks and Romans were not the only people who were committed to the use of massage. When Alexander invaded India he found that ‘the King while receiving foreign visitors listens and is rubbed at the same time.’ Two hundred years before Alexander the Sanskrit Ayur-Veda (Art of Life) suggested that one ‘rise early, bathe, wash the mouth, anoint the body, submit to friction and shampoo and then exercise.’
Early experiments with massage in China revealed the direct relationship between skin surface pressures and the health of internal organs. Acupuncture theory developed the specific details of this discovery. The acupuncturist understands these relationships so precisely that by inserting needles about a tenth of an inch into the flesh he can regulate the functions of any part of the body. Acupuncture, of course, is not massage; although on rare occasions it can be painful, it’s a therapy that seems to work.
Common sense as well as four thousand years of medical records indicates that massage works best when it is a sensual experience. Victorians ignored this evidence and those few who were still dedicated to the use of massage strived to make it scientific and thus acceptable to their age. Massage specialists spent years in dusty libraries pouring over gigantic treatises on anatomy and physiology to learn the ‘correct’ way of touching other people.
Massage, like psychology, was transformed from a common folk healing technique to a science whose secrets were supposedly only available to the initiated. The intensive research efforts of this group did give us a great deal of important information about the specific effects of massage on various diseases. But their conclusions regarding technique are usually nothing more than the translation of ancient massage methods into a modem idiom, the language of science.
Table of Contents
Ch. 1: Introductory Remarks
Ch. 2: Oils and Essences
Ch. 3: Preparation for Massage
A Complete Body Massage
Ch. 4: The Abdomen and Chest
Ch. 5: The Neck and Head Ch.
6: The Arms
Ch. 7: The Hands
Ch. 8: The Front of the Legs
Ch. 9: The Feet
Ch. 10: The Back of the Legs
Ch. 11: The Back
An Extended Massage
Ch. 12: Percussion
Ch. 13: Love Massage
Ch. 14: Special Effects
Appendix 1: Accessories
Appendix 2: A History of Massage
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