Tui Na, or Chinese Medical Massage, is an ancient healing art that employs the use of the hands to press on key points on the surface of the body to stimulate the body’s own natural healing process. One of the main branches of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Tui Na differs from other forms of massage in that it is used to treat specific illnesses of an internal nature as well as musculoskeletal ailments.
Tui Na is one of the four main branches of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), its sister therapies being Chinese herbal medicine, acupuncture and Qi Gong. Although relatively new to the West, its roots in China are ancient, dating back to around 2700 BC.
Tui Na practitioners use a wide range of massage techniques to help restore the balance of Qi within the body, and facilitate its ability to heal naturally. These techniques can be applied as powerful physical techniques or used gently, for subtle energy work.
Tui na Chinese massage can be applied either lying down or sitting in a chair. You do not usually need to remove any clothing unless the practitioner needs to apply herbal liniment to your skin, or use moxa, gua sha and cupping techniques. Very often, you will be wrapped in a sheet or towel.
Generally a treatment moves through three levels:
1. Relatively gentle superficial techniques start to open the energy meridians and allow your muscles to relax.
2. The heart of the treatment consists of stronger, rhythmic techniques and point stimulation, or deep subtle energy work. You may feel deeply relaxed and sleepy during this stage.
3. Brisk sweeping techniques dissipate any stagnant energy that has been stirred-up during the treatment. Passive movements of joints and stretches can be incorporated at this stage.
In addition to the massage, I might also use other Chinese therapeutic techniques including –
Moxibustion – Moxa is a dried herb related to Mugwort. Burnt like incense to warm and relax muscles and energy meridians
Cupping – glass cups with a vacuum seal are placed on the skin to stimulate blood flow and clear stagnant Qi.
Gua Sha – vigorous rubbing of the skin to increase blood flow and clear stagnant Qi.
Herbal liniments, oils and lotions applied directly to the skin to prevent chaffing, stimulate the flow of Qi and enhance the energetic effects of the massage.
Cupping and Gua Sha may leave superficial red marks or small bruises, but these are painless and quickly fade.