Medical Massage and Tuina for Back Pain
As part of our series about treating back pain in Shanghai, Body & Soul practitioners share how they can help you if you’re suffering from acute or chronic back pain. Medical massage, and specifically TCM’s tuina, offers back pain relief and complements other healing treatments. Learn more about how it differs from your standard spa massage and what you can expect from massage treatment.
Medical Massage as Part of Back Pain Treatment
Whereas a relaxing massage is primarily concerned with relaxing the body, a medical massage therapist is focused mainly on restoring health. Medical massage can help with a wide variety of muscular skeletal conditions such as low back pain, repetitive strain injuries or frozen shoulder.
Medical massage applies a detailed understanding of applied biomechanics, functional anatomy, physiology and health. This vital concept of health draws from both eastern and western medicine to provide a unique and balanced approach to pain and health management.
Medical massage employs a wide variety of techniques. With the awareness that most people are in pain or distress, techniques are usually gentle and slow. Each treatment is tailored to suit the individual’s body type, general health, personality and nature of condition but typically involve a combination of gentle massage, articulation, stretching and mobilization.
The tradition of using massage in TCM treatment dates back to at least the Shang Dynasty (1700 B.C.). Tuina massage uses the TCM theory of meridians, or pathways through which Qi flows. Through the application of massage strokes and manipulation techniques, tuina helps to establish a more harmonious Qi flow. Tuina uses 21 different manipulations to address different muscles and treat pain and underlying imbalances.
Tuina is such a natural, gentle technique it’s even used on infants. Tuina uses soft and consistent strokes and manipulations. Often a masseuse at a spa will use intense pressure, as they and their customers may believe this is necessary to be effective. However, this often causes the muscles to swell, which is why many people feel pain in the days after some spa massages.
Tuina is commonly employed for chronic pain, musculoskeletal conditions and injuries. The doctor will focus on specific pain sites, acupressure points, energy meridians, muscles and joints. These techniques will reduce pain, support healing and increase overall health. Thus, tuina is an ideal aid to many medical treatments. The Body & Soul team will commonly recommend tuina as a complementary therapy in your back pain treatment plan.
What to Expect From Tuina/Medical Massage
During a medical massage, you should feel comfortable and quite relaxed. You may experience some discomfort to varying degrees when your therapist manipulates particular parts of the body. In order to get the best effect, your therapist will stimulate the aching areas and use special manipulations if necessary. Your therapist will communicate with you to reduce pressure and movements if you are experiencing pain. By using medical techniques, the therapist can be gentle yet extremely effective.
Medical massage, including tuina, differs substantially from a standard spa massage. Exercise caution with non-medical massage therapists when you have had back injuries or have back pain. While you may experience immediate relaxation or temporary pain relief, relaxing massages will not typically resolve the root issues. And, sometimes they result in muscle swelling and cause more pain or additional issues. They can be useful for stress relief and a healthy lifestyle, but a medical practitioner can best address your acute or chronic pain.
Tuina and other forms of medical massage provide excellent results when used in conjunction with physiotherapy and manual techniques from a chiropractor or osteopath.
Contact us to make an appointment and find out if medical massage could help you. Osteopath Matthew Stevens provides medical massage combining tuina and other eastern and western techniques at the Hongmei Road and Four Seasons clinics. Additionally, Joe Teh and several of our TCM doctors specialize in tuina, offering services in our clinics throughout Shanghai.