Connective Tissue Massage History

Elizabethe Dicke, a German physical therapist, devised the technique of connective tissue massage in 1929. During a severe and painful illness in her right lower extremity (i.e. endarteritis obliterans) for which amputation had been seriously considered, she tried to give herself relief from backache by stroking over painful areas with the finger tips. She found that such areas were hypersensitive at first but as the stroking was continued, the muscle tension relaxed somewhat.

Similar treatment on successive days seemed not only to ease the pain and tension in the back but also to produce some effect on the lower extremity. Sensation began to return, and the skin felt warm, rather than cold. After three months of this massage (done by a colleague), severe symptoms began to subside and within the year she was able to return to work as a physical therapist.

Much clinical study and evaluation followed this initial experience. From Elizabethe Dicke’s and others’ further refinements of her original stroking, and the extension of its use to treat many pathologically-involved tissues and organs of the body, the method of “Bindegewebsmassage” now widely used in Europe and especially in Germany by both physicians and physical therapists, has evolved.