Swedish Physician, credited as the 'father of modern therapeutic massage' (1776-1839)
Born in Sweden, Per Ling had a scientific pedigree: his ancestor Olof Rudbeck was the man widely credited with discovering the human lymphatic system. Ling had broad interests and a brilliant mind, earning a degree in theology, studying abroad and then teaching language at the University of Copenhagen.
In his travels he met and befriended a Chinese man. This fellow taught Ling about many health practices such as tuina, massage, and martial arts—techniques which were virtually unknown outside the Orient at that time. This health regimen formed the basis for much of Ling's work from that point forward.
Ling traveled throughout Europe, studying athletics and gymnastics, and developing a regimen of massage, exercise, and gymnastic stretching for health maintenance. He experimented, reducing his own rheumatism and assorted pains with these techniques. He found that these methods were highly effective.
Ling then completed his medical training in Sweden, and focused his career on incorporating these techniques into health care and maintenance. In 1813, he worked with the Swedish government to found the Royal Gymnastic Central Institute, for the training of instructors in gymnastic, massage, and athletic techniques, which he called the Swedish Movement System.
Dr. Ling's claims and techniques gained acceptance slowly, and his reputation grew. After his death in 1839, Swedish medical gymnastics formed the basis for what came to be known as Swedish Massage or Classical Massage. His work has served to influence healthcare in the West for almost two centuries.
Borseth, Kolbjory, "Skin Care Secrets Revealed: Swedish Massage" (online at: http://www.aromantic.co.uk/swedish-massage-oils.htm
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