About Tui Na Chinese Massage

Tui Na Book

Tui Na (pronounced 'twee-nah' and sometimes spelled tuina) is a type of Chinese massage practiced for several thousand years as a part of the larger Chinese system of medicine.

Tui means “push” and Na means “grasp,” and this deeply penetrating massage therapy includes a series of pressing, rolling, tapping, and kneading techniques.

This massage is based on the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and the flow of energy (qi or chi) through the energy pathways (meridians) of your body. The movement of qi shows up as changes in muscle and fascial tone, circulation of blood and fluids, and sensations such as tingling or warmth.

Massage techniques focus on freeing blocked energy to relieve pain and to let the body heal itself. As such, Chinese massage practitioners need to understand the underlying concepts of TCM to choose which points along the meridians to massage.

Chinese Massage Session

Techniques include massage of muscles and tendons, stimulation of acupressure points to directly affect the qi flow, and techniques to realign muscles, bones, and ligaments. Although some of the massage techniques are similar to Swedish massage, they are done with the intention of harmonizing yin and yang.

To receive Chinese massage, you typically wear loose clothing and no shoes and lie on a table or a mat on the floor. The practitioner uses a specific treatment protocol based on your specific problems. The practitioner may also use compresses, external herbal poultices, liniments, and salves, as well as cupping and moxibustion (burning a herb called moxa).

Chinese Massage Systems


Different systems of tuina focus on particular aspects of the therapeutic principles. In China, the main systems include:

  • The rolling method focuses on the use of soft tissue techniques, especially for muscle sprains and joint injuries.
  • The Nei Gung method uses exercises to generate qi and specific methods of massage to stimulate drained energy systems.
  • The one-finger pushing method uses acupressure techniques and focuses on treating internal diseases.
  • The bone setting method realigns the muscles, bones, and ligaments and focuses on helping heal joint injuries and nerve pain.

Note that some of these techniques go beyond the scope of massage therapy and cannot be practiced by a typical massage therapist. However, the massage aspects are quite powerful and appropriate even for children. See Tui Na Massage for a Healthier, Brighter Child for more information.

Sources

Naomoi Serviss, "Tui Na: Asia’s Medical Massage," Massage Magazine, Sept/Oct 2005, pp. 99-102.

Sarah Pritchard, Chinese Massage Manual.

Vesna Vuynovich Kovach, The Tui Na Touch: The Intensity of Chinese Medicine at Your Fingertips, Massage & Bodywork, April/May 2003, pp. 23-29.






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