Chinese Massage (Tuina)…versatile…
…you need not even take your clothes off!
Tuina (Chinese Massage) is a form of massage used by practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for centuries. It uses highly specialised massage techniques according to principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine, to treat a variety of musculoskeletal conditions, illnesses related to stress (such as fatigue, insomnia, headache and Migraine and so on) and to engender a general feeling of relaxation and wellbeing. There are references to massage being used in a health context in around 1700 BC, whilst Tuina began to be studied as a separate discipline in around 700 AD, although at the time it was referred to as An Mo, with the term Tuina coming into use later as the techniques were developed and honed in line with the evolving theories of TCM.
Tuina for Health
Tuina (Chinese Massage) has a range of medicinal benefits. If the patient is suffering from a particular health issue (especially if that problem is related to the muscle or skeletal structures) Tuina can be used to target specific joints, muscles or meridians in order to move the blockages of Qi which typically cause pain and/or discomfort. Tuina might be proposed as a mode of treatment for any of the following conditions (though this list is not exhaustive, and Tuina could be of benefit to any number of conditions):
Sciatica and back pain
Headache and Migraine
Arthritis, Rheumatism and general joint pain
Neck and shoulder pain
Tuina (Chinese Massage) can also be used to improve the patient’s ability to heal after a period of illness, and to improve their defences against the invasion of external pathogens such as cold and flu viruses and the allergens which can trigger Hay Fever. TCM understands that our Qi has a defensive element, known as Wei Qi (‘way chee’), which protects us against these types of invasions. If our Wei Qi is depleted or stagnant, we are more susceptible to illness. Tuina’s role in strengthening and moving our Qi can therefore improve our body’s defensive capabilities, thus helping us to heal faster and repel external invasions.
Tuina for Relaxation
Tuina (Chinese Massage) can also be of benefit even if you are not suffering from any specific health problems. Feeling generally well probably means that your Qi is moving relatively freely through your body, and that there are no specific blockages on the meridians, but encouraging the Qi to continue to move in an uninhibited fashion withTuina can have the following therapeutic benefits:
Promotes feelings of vitality, energy and wellbeing
Relaxes tense or aching muscles
Promotes general relaxation and aids restful sleep
Promotes overall health and helps to reduce the likelihood of internal imbalances in Qi, which may eventually lead to unpleasant symptoms
Improves circulation (of Qi and blood)
A person who feels relaxed and healthy on the inside also looks good on the outside. In stimulating our circulation, Tuina can help our skin to appear toned and healthy, whilst relaxing our muscles and joints means that our internal organs are not compressed, helping us to breathe more deeply, stand straighter and feel more energetic and confident.
What does Tuina (Chinese Massage) involve?
After seeking to understand what the patient is hoping to achieve from their massage, and taking details of any major events in their medical history, the TCM clinician will be able to recommend which types of Tuina technique will be most beneficial. Tuina translates into English as “push-grasp”, and its techniques include brushing, kneading, rolling and rubbing. A TCM clinician will commonly use their palms, fingertips and knuckles to administer these techniques, sometimes using a massage oil with ingredients known to quicken the Qi to act as a lubricant and aid the process.
Tuina is a highly adaptable form of massage which can be administered through clothing if necessary, if the patient is uncomfortable disrobing.
In comparison to some Western medicines and medical techniques, Tuina is an extremely safe form of treatment. It is an entirely non-invasive procedure, and can be adapted to suit the needs and preference of the patient. If the patient is of a sensitive or anxious disposition for example, a deep tissue massage may not be appropriate, and may even be upsetting for the patient, but a light neck and shoulder massage which aims to move the Qi in the channels affecting the liver or heart (organs which are known to influence our mental welfare and emotions—if we are very upset for example, we often say that we are ‘heartbroken’) would be both appropriate and beneficial. For a fit and healthy sportsman wishing to recover from a muscle strain however, a deeper massage employing kneading techniques may be more appropriate. In seeking first to understand the patient’s needs in the context of their overall health, the TCM clinician can be assured of administering a Tuina massage which is appropriate on both medical and therapeutic grounds.
At our clinic, Tuina is practiced both as part of a personalised treatment plan, in order to address specific health concerns, and as a standalone method of promoting vitality and relaxation. Tuina massages typically last for approximately 30 minutes to 60 minutes.