A1 Journal article (refereed)
Keen on Massage : The Finnish Way to Olympic Success in the Twentieth Century (2019)

Rantala, Kalle (2019). Keen on Massage : The Finnish Way to Olympic Success in the Twentieth Century. International Journal of the History of Sport, 36 (2-3), 169-185. DOI: 10.1080/09523367.2019.1633309

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Rantala, Kalle

Journal or series: International Journal of the History of Sport

ISSN: 0952-3367

eISSN: 1743-9035

Publication year: 2019

Volume: 36

Issue number: 2-3

Pages range: 169-185

Publisher: Taylor & Francis

Publication country: United Kingdom

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09523367.2019.1633309

Open Access: Publication channel is not openly available

Additional information: Special Issue: New Dimensions of Sport in Modern Europe: Perspectives from the ‘Long Twentieth Century’.


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.

Keywords: sport history; exercise methods; massage; professionalisation; national culture

Free keywords: nationalism; professionalization; sports massage; sports success; training methods

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2019

JUFO rating: 2

Last updated on 2020-09-07 at 11:54