History of Massage in the United States
If you know anything about massage therapy, aside from its relaxing and restorative properties, it is probably that the techniques used in clinics and providers such as Las Vegas Asian Hotel Room Massage did not, in fact, originate in America. It is often hard to imagine that something that has become so commercialized was not originally from our culture, but in fact, massage is believed to have is its roots in China or Japan before spreading to different parts of Asia and eventually reaching Europe. Today, there is not exactly one specific massage technique or stroke that is unique to America, so it is worth breaking down the history of this healing practice in the context of its American adaptation.
American massage therapy has its earliest records in the eighteenth century, where women would be hired by the surgeons of the time to help patients recuperate from surgery or even attempt to heal the “lame,” or physically disabled, of the time. These massage therapists were called “rubbers” due to the manual friction and pressure that was applied with the hands. These women were not educated formally, but they would utilize joint rotation and movement to help alleviate pain and tension. It was not until the early twentieth century that rubbers were replaced by the highly-trained masseuses and massage therapists that we are more familiar with today.
By the mid-19th century, Swedish influence had begun to take its hold on the American public. A group of practitioners known as “medical gymnasts” would utilize movement and physical manipulation to treat injuries and offer pain relief. These medical gymnasts came to America after receiving a two-year education at a newly-founded academy in Sweden. It is from Swedish tradition that the principles of holistic, physiological, anatomical science became infused with the manual rubbing that had been going on since colonial times. By the early 1900s, massage had become established as the modern version of the practice that we see today, which was heavily influenced by European creators. The terms “masseuse” and “massage” were developed from the name Johann Mezger, a medical doctor who at the time had revolutionized these practices.
The full-body, general massage format that is highly pervasive in American massage institutions has its roots in what is called the “Rest Cure,” a type of manual healing method that was employed to offer ladies relief from the symptoms of neurasthenia, a debatable condition that likely refers to the depression and distress felt by women of society in this misogynistic period. In any case, bed rest and full-body rubbing was applied to increase circulation and stimulate appetite. This planted the seeds that massage could be a general way to feel better after illness, injury, or a period of mental and emotional distress, spurring a rise in the number of private masseuses and massage therapy training programs.
By the Golden Age and even through the Great Depression, the Swedish massage influence had increased to the point where private practices were opening up in YMCAs, public baths, beauty parlors, spas, and other health clinics. Massage became a way to stimulate the soft tissues to promote overall physical and mental health and was not limited to rehabilitation from injuries. 1943 was the year that the American Association of Masseuses and Masseurs, today known as the American Massage Therapy Association, was founded, cementing the idea that massage therapy was a legitimate area of the health profession industry. A major accomplishment of this organization was the passing of a policy that declared private massage therapists did not have to work under organized medicinal industries if they so chose.
By the 1960s and 1970s, the terms “masseuse” and “masseur” started being replaced by “massage therapist,” and “massage parlor” become a sort of slang term for a brothel. It is perhaps no surprise that people sought to take advantage of the healing properties of massage for other purposes, but these “full-service” establishments continue to thrive today. In any case, the language switch that emphasized therapy helped legitimize the idea that massage could be used to obtain tangible health benefits on par with modern medicine and was not merely for pleasure. It was also around this time that the American public began searching for a deeper meaning to life, and connection to nature and natural healing became a new focus of the public. The hands-on, intimate techniques of massage became highly embraced during this time as opposed to vocalizing mental health problems or seeking out prescription medications.
This all-natural approach to life phased out a little bit during the 1980s-2000s, but in the early 2010s, fitness and physical health became a huge priority of society again as political climates mounted to a tense and tumultuous state. Interest in alternative medicine was revitalized, and the massage therapy industry continues to expand based off of this change. This brings us to the present, where massage therapy is commonplace. Ready to try it? Call us today at Las Vegas Asian Hotel Room Massage!