The practices of massage and exercise flourished within ancient Greek society. The physician and priest Asclepius was instrumental in the development of the famous Greek gymnasiums where the combination of massage, exercise, and water treatments were promoted to rid the body of disease and support whole health. Aesculapius was awarded the divine rank of god of medicine.
Hippocrates (c. 460–377 B.C.), known as the father of modern medicine, is also credited as a promoter of massage. Hippocrates’s work was based on the idea that the body needs to be balanced to function properly. He prescribed massage as a tool to bring the body into wellness. Hippocrates revolutionized the practice of medicine with his new ideas and new procedures. He introduced the concept of symptoms as they related to the environment of the patient, using those symptoms as a guideline for treatment.
Hippocrates created a type of rubbing called anatripsis. The introduction of anatripsis revolutionized the practice of rubbing. Unlike the old shamanic style of massage, where the goal was to stroke toward the extremities to rub the evil spirits and illness out and away from the body, Hippocrates believed rubbing toward the heart to be more effective. He felt that massage moved the body fluids toward the center of the body, allowing for effective release of toxins and freeing waste to leave the body.