Massage in ancient Greece: a therapeutic ritual

A practice as old as time, massage has well proven benefits for the body and the soul: This pampering treatment can help with body stress or pain, promote general relaxation, and contribute to the overall well being of a person. And, among the many around the world, the ancient greek massage practice is one to suit everyone’s needs, whether they are seeking relief from pain or stress, or to improve the overall condition of their body and mind.

A millennia-old tradition meets science

Massage in ancient Greece becomes a scientific instrument for healing.

Massage with oils and greek aromatic herbs and ointments was part of the practices at the Asklepieia, the healing temples of ancient Greece. However, it was Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, that introduced the practice in a scientific way into the healing regiments he prescribed, one to be performed by the day’s physicians no less. Specifying different types of massages for different conditions, whether to relax a limb, help heal it, or firm a body, he and the other doctors of the Kos school also defined optimal timing intervals for massage therapies depending on the goal of the treatment (losing weight, increasing body mass, proper heal of an injury etc).


Hippocrates’ massage techniques revolutionised the practice, by introducing strokes that directed the blood flow towards the center of the body (as opposed to the older practices that were directed towards the ends of the extremities). Dry massages were also prescribed frequently, depending on the condition.