Tui Na is a major component of Oriental medicine. In Chinese, tui na literally means “pushing hand to straighten the bone.” It is a very old form of musculoskeletal manipulation and Chinese massage involving the use of various massage techniques to bring back balance to the body.
As one of the four major components of Oriental medicine, Tui na stimulates the body to heal itself naturally:
Today, the type of tui na practiced in China is similar to the work of physical therapists and chiropractors than to those of massage therapists. It is learned as an equal but separate field of study in Oriental medicine schools, requiring the same degree of training as herbalists and acupuncturists. A practitioner of tui na is educated in the theories of Oriental medicine such as the Five elements, Chi, and Yin/Yang. They go through a thorough education in order to become adept to skill and theories required for medical diagnosis and treatment.
The Five Elements, Chi, and Yin/Yang
While several of the techniques may seem similar to Western massage therapy, a major difference is in the philosophy and principles behind the massage. Tui na healers need to know the 12 major meridians, the 20 blood vessels, as well as the 8 secondary meridians located throughout the body. Each major meridian is associated with a bodily function or an organ. There are a number of acupuncture points along the blood vessels where the flow of blood is nearest to the skin surface, and these points are stimulated using massage, acupressure, and acupuncture. By activating both the acupoints and blood vessels, circulation is stimulated. This boosts the nutrient and oxygen flow throughout the body that, in turn, increases the circulation of Chi or vital energy.
This article will discuss the different tui na methods and how they are different from western massage methods, and what a person can expect from an ordinary session. We’ll also talk about the different conditions that tui na can effectively treat.
Tui Na Methods
Tuina differs from Swedish massage and other western massage therapies which are commonly used to encourage stress relief and relaxation. Tui na is classified as a type of therapeutic treatment. As it grows in popularity among Westerners, the techniques have been altered to become a more remedial part of conventional western massage techniques in order to treat certain physical ailments and illnesses. A lot of tui na practitioners trained in the West do not administer the realignment of ligaments and joints (bonesetting) as their counterparts in China do.
Tui na has a much closer affiliation to shiatsu massage. Like shiatsu, tui na utilizes harmonized compression along the body, as well as methods that lubricate and manipulate the joints, including:
Zhen (vibrating) Cuo (rubbing/twisting)
Tao (vigorous pinching pressure)
Dian (finger pressure)
Boyun (forearm kneading)
An (quick, rhythmic pressing)
During treatment, tui na healers utilize the following techniques:
Administering Massage on the 20 Vessels and Acupoints
This is the activation of acupoints and blood vessels to regulate the flow of blood. Since every acupoint is associated with a certain body organ, several internal diseases can be treated through their stimulation (e.g. digestive problems, respiratory disorders, and hormonal disorders, etc.). A tui na healer senses the body of the client with his hands to ascertain where circulation is excessive, depleted or weak or where blockages exist.
Lubricating the Joints and Stretching the Body
This process is designed to treat both chronic and acute pain associated with the skeletal system, joints, and muscles and to stretch specific parts of the body. This technique is quite helpful for arthritis, joint pain, nerve pain, muscle spasms, sciatica, and pain in the shoulders, neck, and back. The procedures also treat migraines and headaches, and alleviate tension in the body related to stress. Bonesetting and other manipulation therapies may also be used to rebalance the musculoskeletal system.
Using External Aids
Salves, liniments, compresses, and herbal poultices are sometimes used in addition to other techniques.
Aside from correcting problems, tui na and the other components of traditional Chinese medicine are also used for preventative maintenance which guarantees a steady flow of blood free of any obstructions.
Tui na is a non-invasive and natural therapy that’s safe for infants, pregnant women, and the elderly. Except for the occasional soreness after treatment, it has no side effects. It can be used in conjunction with mainstream medicine or as a stand-alone treatment. Most people who seek tui na treatments suffer from health problems that do not respond to modern medical solutions, or that traditional physicians have difficulty formally diagnosing or recommending surgery for.
A Typical Tui Na Treatment Session
Tui na therapy is usually performed on either a mat, floor pad, or table. During a session, the patient is required to remove his shoes and to wear loose clothing. Clothing should be comfortable, with skirt/pants and top as separate articles of clothing to give the practitioner the liberty to reach easily the different parts of the body. Clothing may be removed from time to time in order to expose an area that may require direct skin contact.
Health issues and conditions as well as current medicines are discussed by both the practitioner and the patient. Then, the practitioner performs a physical examination of the entire body as well as any specific illnesses being treated. The primary point of attention is on the joints, muscles, blood vessels, acupoints, and pain sites. There will be practitioners who will use Chinese herbs to promote faster healing.
While the practitioner administers tui na therapy, he also regulates the breathing of the patient and, using his hands, holds the intention to activate the circulation of vital energy and oxygen in the body’s blood vessels. This activates stagnant blood flow and helps release blockages.
A treatment session may last for 30 minutes to an hour. Additional therapies are often required depending on the underlying cause of the problem. In regard to chronic illnesses, this is especially the case. Tui na is not performed on compound fractures, on areas where there are malignant tumors, and on external wounds. On pregnant women, it should also not be performed on the stomach area.
Tui na therapy is far from a relaxing and light form of massage. It actually can be very intense. A substantial amount of pressure is sometimes needed during manipulation and massage that can feel uncomfortable and vigorous. If there is very intense friction from stroking or rubbing, the practitioner can use a special type of massage oil or lotion, sesame oil, or talcum powder.
In between sessions, the practitioner may teach the patient self-massage techniques to be performed at home, as well as for preventative maintenance and overall well-being.
After eating a meal, patients should wait at least an hour before going through the therapy.
In the US, A typical Tui na session may cost anywhere from $50 to $100 depending on the location of the clinic and the practitioner. Some practitioners provide incentives and discounts based on the number of sessions needed. These days, many insurance companies cover pain management treatments which include physical therapy, chiropractic, and massage. Some companies cover all the four pillars of Oriental medicine. If Chinese massage is covered by your insurance company, then you are fortunate indeed.
What to Expect After a Treatment Session
After treatment, the patient usually experiences a sense of relaxation and calmness, just like after a conventional massage. The experience may sometimes be energizing, and a body part may sometimes feel sore or tender. On body parts where deep massage was performed, some slight bruising may arise. If the bowels and bladder are stimulated there may be a need to use the bathroom. Pain relief may be meaningfully experienced during the first session, although it may take a number of sessions to experience lasting and significant results.
Like other types of Chinese medicine, tuina therapy may bring about different reactions on different people. This will depend on how well the person responds to the treatment and on the specific constitution of the patient. Tuina therapy recognizes all parts of the body are interconnected, and it focuses on holistically restoring the entire body back into balance.
Tui na is not regulated in Western countries; nonetheless, it is taught in schools that provide professional degrees in Oriental medicine. These degrees guarantee that the students are educated about the various branches and principles of Oriental medicine.
Benefits of Tui Na
Tui na is a safe type of treatment for the elderly young children and people of all ages. It is particularly useful in managing and reducing the discomfort of various conditions related to aging. It is works extremely well in the treatment of chronic pain related to musculoskeletal disorders including:
Arthritis and joint pain
Migraines and headaches