• Karen Stoner, LMT

Massage Tips and Trivia: Women who assisted surgeons by giving massages were called "rubbers"


"In 17th Century America, women who assisted surgeons by giving massages to patients were referred to as "rubbers""


Get the teenage giggling out of your system. All good? While this statement can conjure images of the "darker" side of Massage that legitimate Therapists have been working to dispel (with absolutely no help from the media, entertainment, or most recently lawyers in the professional sports world), there is some very important information in this statement. While massage has some very un-professional connotations in many people's minds, the fact that it has recorded usage throughout history should overrule it's misinterpretations for the medical tool that it actually is.


Even as far back as the 17th Century in Early America, there are records of women who assisted surgeons by providing massage. These are the days before before basic sterilization, pain killers, antibiotics, or many other things we take for granted today when we think of surgery. Surgery was a risky business in which many things could go wrong. However, even the doctors back then knew that massage could greatly help their patients.


Massage can help relax a patient and keep them calm, keeping them from over-elevating their heart rate. After the surgery, massage helps greatly with regaining circulation to get the injured person back on their feet more quickly. Scar massage and lymphatic drainage help post-surgical patients heal faster and have fewer surgical complications. Massage can also help reduce the formation of scar tissue which helps the area where the surgery was performed to regain mobility more quickly, allowing the patient to get back to "normal" sooner.


Today, Massage Therapy is still used as a complement to post-operative work to aid in healing, preventing re-injury, and avoiding complications. There are also many more modalities for the healing process including specific techniques for scars, cupping to break up scar tissue, and various modalities to help increase circulation and flush out bad stuff. While many hospitals don't generally have massage therapists right there during post-op (some do - and kudos to them!) many therapists do offer services for post-operative healing.

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