The beginning lies in pre-history. Touch has always been known to be a way of connecting, of healing, of bringing Balance. In recorded history it may have began thus:
The 'Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine' by Huang Ti circa 2590 B.C. talks of massage as one of the modalities of medicine. Massage was also used within the martial arts traditions.
There are statues of the Buddha, (500B.C.) receiving bodywork. However, Ayurveda texts which possibly go back as far as 3000B.C. recommend massage
Ancient Egyptian wall paintings demonstrate the beginnings of reflexology about 2500B.C.
Close to 1000B.C. Japanese Buddhist monks studying in China bring massage techniques which relate to meridians and energy points back to Japan. Shiatsu is born out of this.
Homers 'Odyssey' talks of Massage
Hippocrates, the Greek 'father' of physical medicine calls Massage one of the principal therapeutic modalities. This was around 500B.C. Greek athletes used friction and other massage forms to keep their bodies in top form.
As Massage comes to the Rome, Galem writes books on the subject of massage between 200-100B.C. These books are influential until the middle ages.
Guy de Chauliac (1300-1368) names massage an adjunct to surgery. Modern studies are bearing out the benefits of massage after surgery to quicken recovery.
Paraclesus (1493-1541) calls it 'indispensable therapy'
Swedish massage originated in the early 1800's created by a doctor, who was also a gymnast Per Hendril Ling.