How did massage start in Zurich?

Today we have a wide-ranging massage offer in Zurich. Countless massage studios offer various types of massage. Medical massage, classic massage, relaxation massage, shiatsu, holistic massage… there is something for everyone. But how did this massage offer develop?

We did a little bit of research and put together a little history of massage, for all those of you who simply can’t get enough of massage.

The history of massage

Did you know that massage is one of the oldest forms of therapy? Its first records are about 2700 years old and can be traced back to the Asian region, to ancient China. There it has been listed as one of the main parts of Chinese medicine. Up to today, manual therapy according to TCM – called Tuina – builds one of the 5 pillars of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

In Europe, the oldest records of massage stem from ancient Greece. There, according to the writings, the athletes of the Olympic Games were massaged before and after the competitions. Also in ancient Rome, massage was used for the rehabilitation of gladiators. Thus, sports massage was already trending around 400 BC and people were aware of its positive effects. In addition, the well-known ancient physician Hippocrates used massage techniques to treat injuries.

Over the centuries, massage has been used in different forms. Towards the end of the Middle Ages, the physician Paracelsus, who was very progressive for his time, put a real spotlight on manual therapy again.

In the France of the 16th century, massage experienced a heyday and was increasingly used medically. The French surgeon AnbroiseParé used different massage techniques to promote wound healing after surgery. The influence of French massage can still be seen today, for example, many massage terms are still mentioned with their French name (see example below).

Classic massage as we know it today

Most massage therapists today are trained in classical massage. This widespread type of massage is also known as “Swedish massage” because that’s where it originated. The Swedish gymnastics and fencing teacher Per Hendrik Ling (1776-1839) experimented with various techniques, founded the so-called Swedish massage, and opened his own institute, where he taught the various techniques of his massage. This institute was known beyond the Swedish borders throughout Europe, which led to doctors from different European countries traveling there to learn Ling’s massage therapy. As a result, classical massage spread throughout Europe.

A few years later, the doctor Albert Hoffa worked with- and developed the technique. His work “Techniques of Massage”, published in 1893, can still be purchased today in its 20th edition.

In his book, Hoffa describes the 5 basic techniques of classical massage that are still valid today:

  • Effleurage – Deletions
  • Petrissage – Kneading and Walking
  • Friction – friction, usually circular
  • Tapotement – tapping, hacking
  • Vibration – vibration transmission, shaking

(Notice the French terms)

Massage in the Zurich of today

In Switzerland, medical massage is now performed by medical massage therapists. This job title is quite young; it was officially recognised by the swiss state in 1998. At various schools in and around Zurich you can be trained as a medical massage therapist. The manual techniques are also taught in the traditional European naturopathic training and traditional Chinese medicine courses. Massage treatments by medical massage therapists and certified alternative practitioners are covered by most supplementary insurances of the health insurance companies.

The numbers show how popular massage of any kind is today. There are more than 250 massage practices in the canton of Zurich. Zurichers google the term “Massage Zurich” around 10,000 times a month, and the term “medical massage” is googled around 900 times. This is a good sign, because it shows that well-being plays an important role among the people living in Zurich.

The development of the Massage offer at Origin Massage Zurich

Thanks to the different backgrounds of our many therapists, our customers can now benefit from an extensive range of massages. When our founders Nico and Goran started 3 years ago, you could mainly book medical massage treatments. Today, in addition to various massage techniques such as sports massage, deep tissue, LomiLomi, lymphatic drainage, or shiatsu, we also offer naturopathy and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

Craving a massage? Then come visit us at one of our locations in Zurich. For example, in Seefeld or Altstetten

Another larger and super cozy practice is our Bahnhof Enge location, which is managed by our wonderful therapist Alexandra Sommerauer.