Matthew Lacoste: Journeying Through the History of Massage (LBP 010)

Matthew Lacoste of talks about the epic journey that he is kicking off next month. He’ll be traveling the world following the history of massage. On a bike. That converts into a massage chair. Using massage as his primary currency. Wow! He’s sure to get an up close view into how massage affects many different kinds of people’s lives, as well as charting how touch has influenced society throughout history.




Show notes

Matthew talks about his trip following the history and culture of massage from London all the way to Hawaii the long way around. He's doing it to find the history, relevance, and differences in massage, while sharing experiences with other therapists. Hopefully bringing massage into the light since it often hides in the background of Western culture

His trip takes him from London to France, Italy, a ferry to Greece, Turkey, Egypt, flying to India, Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, South Korea, and finally to Hawaii

He will be following what he learned about mostly from Robert Noah Calvert, founder Massage Magazine, in his book The History of Massage

In history, Egypt and China have the earliest references of massage in culture.

In ancient Egypt the physicians were all female.

A difference between East and West historically: Massage would be happening in the home- it wasn't put on this pedestal like only for the rich, or only for athletes, or something tawdry. It was part of everyday life.

There's no pottery or anything from way back with massage on it, but it was seen as such a standard thing to have done. It's the same as why you wouldn't find pottery with different ways of tilling fields on it.

Matthew is primarily a sports and remedial massage therapist who studied at The School of Natural Therapies in London, and the London School of Sport and Remedial Massage.

He got into massage after being trained as a dancer and a physical performer. Massage is still a connection between 2 people-as with dance. It requires a lot of body awareness to do both.

The couchcycle is how he will be traveling. It is a bicycle/massage chair. You take off the back wheel and it has back supports, you rest over the handle bars and there is a face cradle for you there as there would be on a massage table.

This is for transport, but it's also so he can use massage as an international currency- bartering as he goes

His brother Henri Lacoste has helped him to engineer it.

Being able to trade with people allows him to also impart knowledge while also learning and interacting with people as he goes.

The actual engineering of the couchcycle happened through much trial and error (and welding). They've had to figure out how to get it comfortable and still have it ergonomically work, getting it sturdy enough.

Also making this as a video documentary as they go. There will be filmmakers coming for different legs of the trip. and he has some open slots if anyone wants to do filming in some unusual places!

With the biking- if he gets a ride down the road then he will take the ride- but the aim is 60 miles a day 5 days a week, so 300 miles a week. Just France and Italy is 1,700 miles, to give an idea of how long the trip will take total. So it's about a month per country. But China and India will take a bit longer!

He really hopes to find different experiences of massage- how has it helped people. What are different ways people react to and use massage?

Also where hasn't massage gone before?

He is raising money for charity on the trip. Originally he was going to have two charities that he was raising for, but one [Seeing Hands] has said they don't need more money, which is great.  Mel Cash, who is basically like the Godfather of Massage in UK, said they don't need any more money as the massage therapists at Seeing Hands are making income and training new people, so it's making a great difference to the blind community there.

The other charity he will be fundraising for is Water Aid.

And if anyone knows of other massage charities, Matthew is looking for one, so please let him know

I mention the studies about the necessity of touch on infants and how it affected them.

Matthew leaves on September 15th to kick off the trip.

Currently he's doing a lot of training for cycling , He's doing about 100 miles per week which is still a ways off from what he'll be doing on the trip, so he's working his way up.

Home play!

Let's all get a massaaaaaaage! No really. Consider this either permission or a gentle nudge and book one! I have mine booked for this Friday, and I can't wait.


The Touch Trail website

If you want to help Matthew raise funds for the trip and the documentary, you can do that here

Matthew's email address is and remember that he would love to hear from filmmakers who might want to film a leg of the journey, and also to hear about non-profits that specifically support massage therapy related initiatives.

On Twitter he's @touchtrail

On Facebook he's /thetouchtrail

Robert Noah Calvert, founder of Massage Magazineand his book The History of Massage

School of Natural Therapies in London

London School of Sport and Remedial Massage

All about the Couchcycle (bike/massage chair) that he and his brother Henri developed

Seeing Hands

Water Aid

 Article on pre-term infant massage and outcomes in NY Times

Harry Harlow research on touch