Keen on massage : the Finnish way to Olympic success in the twentieth century / Kalle Randala

Randala, Kalle

In Finland masseurs have had an appreciated role in sports even if there has not been affirmative evidence on the benefits of massage on sports performance. Traditionally in the Finnish countryside massage had a role as a healing method which was connected to sauna and bathing. In the late nineteenth century it was spreading into cities owing to improvements in healthcare education and the establishment of masseurs’ societies. Top athletes began to use massage and they had close friends as masseurs. Witnessing the example set by the best, lower level athletes also wanted to have high standard massage. Thus, the demand for massage rose and at the same time massage treatments were included in the systematized preparation for the Olympic Games. Scientists, coaches, and athletes debated whether the benefits of massage were scientifically supported or not, and the individual reasoning altered from physiological to psychological effects.

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