For thousands of years, people with illnesses and disabilities were treated with various methods, making use of massage. The history of manual therapies varies from country to country, Ancient Babylonia, Assyria, China, India, Greece and Rome all practiced some form of massage.
Here are a couple of open access papers that I have come across discussing the history of massage therapy.
More to Explore:
Jacobson, E. (2011). Structural Integration: Origins and Development. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. (OPEN ACCESS)
Pettman, E. (2007). A History of Manipulative Therapy. Journal of Manual & Manipulative Therapy. (OPEN ACCESS)
Terlouw, T. J. (2007). Roots of Physical Medicine, Physical Therapy, and Mechanotherapy in the Netherlands in the 19th Century: A Disputed Area within the Healthcare Domain. Journal of Manual & Manipulative Therapy. (OPEN ACCESS)