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TCM Focus: Tuina Massage

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) differs from western medicine in a number of ways. These include how a diagnosis is made, as well as the curative methods employed. Our TCM series serves to introduce the various methods and their underlying mechanisms. Tuina massage is the name for the massage therapy used in TCM.

History of Tuina

Tuina is not as well-known worldwide as acupuncture and other TCM treatments; however, its history is just as old as Chinese medicine itself. Records of tuina massage date back to the Shang Dynasty (1700 B.C.), where oracle bones show that tuina massage was used to treat children’s diseases and digestive complaints in adults.

How Tuina Works

Tuina massage uses the TCM theory of meridians, or pathways through which Qi flows. These channels are the basic therapeutic focus of tuina massage. Through the application of massage and manipulation techniques, tuina helps to establish a more harmonious Qi flow.

Clinical practice shows that tuina massage brings changes in the body through stimulation induced by manipulation and movement of various parts of the body without using drugs, surgery, etc. Experiments with tuina indicate that the nutrients in the body can be adjusted and harmful agents eliminated, by strengthening the phagocytes which destroy bacteria.

Tuina Methods

Tuina uses various techniques, such as soft tissue massage (muscles and tendons), acupressure to directly influence the flow of Qi, and manipulation techniques to realign the musculoskeletal system (bone setting). These techniques can be divided into two categories:

1. reinforcing manipulations which refer to massage along the course of the meridians, with a light and slow touch covering a short distance

2. reducing manipulations which refer to massage with a heavy and quick touch covering a long distance

When Can Tuina Massage Help?

A tuina treatment focuses on a specific problem rather than a generalized treatment. Tuina massage can be used to treat a variety of medical conditions, including internal medicine, pediatric, gynecological, and orthopedic disorders. It 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. Tuina is such a natural, gentle technique it’s even used on infants!

Tuina for Women

Tuina does an excellent job addressing gynecological issues and helping women achieve optimal health and wellbeing. It is an excellent stress reliever as it releases endorphins. Tuina can be beneficial for women suffering from PMS as it can ease pain and moodiness. It relieves discomfort from heavy legs and tender breasts before the period. Tuina even has a surprising beauty application…when applied to the scalp, it can reduce hair loss and stimulate hair growth.


What to Expect During Tuina Treatment

During your treatment, you may 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. If you tell your therapist you are experiencing discomfort, he/she can decrease the movements.

Tuina massage differs substantially from western physiotherapy and relaxing massages. Even though similar manipulations are employed in other types of massage, tuina massage is a therapeutic TCM intervention. Tuina should not be used when the patient has fractures or open wounds, internal bleeding or other serious medical conditions. Your doctor should be made aware of medical conditions before beginning tuina treatment.

Contact us to make an appointment and find out if tuina could help you. Our therapist, Matthew Stevens has extensive experience with medical massage therapy and offers Tuina at our Hongmei Road Clinic – Hongqiao and Four Seasons Cinic - Jing’an.

Matthew Stevens
Matthew Stevens

Matthew has over 20 years of experience in osteopathy, practicing in the UK, New Zealand, and Japan. He also taught osteopathy in Milan, Italy. He is specialized in integrative manual therapy, combining osteopathic treatments with medical massages as well as with some Traditional Chinese Medicine techniques.