An excellent form of passive exercise is massage. The word is derived from the Greek word `massien` which means to knead. It involves the scientific manipulation of the soft tissues of the body. If correctly done on a bare body, it can be highly stimulating and invigorating.
The great Hippocrates, the father of medicine, employed massage and manipulation in healing his patients as far back as 400 B.C. and since then it has been used as a mode of treatment for many ailments and it has restored many a sufferer to health and vigour.
The general massage, dealing with all parts of the body, is highly beneficial in many ways. It tones up the nervous system, influences respiration and quickens the elimination of poisons and waste material from the body through the various eliminative organs such as the lungs, skin, kidneys an bowels. It also boosts blood circulation and metabolic processes. A massage removes facial wrinkles, helps to fill out hollow cheeks and neck and eases stiffness, sore muscles and numbness.
A natural way of reviving the body is the healing power of touch. We instinctively touch our forehead, temples, eyebrow when we feel tired or pained. Touch gives security and comfort to the young as well as old. It heals mind and body together. The benefits of massage or touch therapy are we documented in ancient medical texts of China, India, Egypt, Persia and Japan. The earliest surviving text mentioning massage as medicine is the Chinese Nei Ching written 3001 years ago.
Ayurveda text from around 1800 BC mentions self-massage with oil as a way of releasing the physical energy Hippocrates, father of modern medicine, was so convinced with the healthy effects of massage that he wanted all doctors to be trained in this skill. Galen, a famous Roman physician (1st century AD), has written 16 books on massage and exercise.
After a phase of neglect, massage therapy returned to Europe in the 19th century in the form of Swedish massage. In 1994 and 1995 two research studies at Middlesex Hospital and Royal Marsden Hospital in England reestablished the therapeutic value of massage as a relaxing, stress-buster and pain reliever.