What's Tuina-Therapeutic Massage?

TuiNa, which translates as "push-grasp" in Chinese, refers to the modality of Chinese medical bodywork that works with the energy system in the body known as the meridian system to bring a balanced state of health. TuiNa can be dated back to 1700 BC and is an integral part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The practitioner may brush, knead, roll/press and rub the specific body areas with the stimulation of acupressure points to get the energy moving in the meridians as well as the muscles. TuiNa is proven to be effective in treating both acute and chronic musculoskeletal conditions, as well as many non-musculoskeletal conditions.

To a Westerner, TuiNa is the form of Asian bodywork most closely resembling conventional western massage with similar technique, such as gliding, kneading, pulling, rotation, rocking, vibration, and shaking. Despite the similarities, the intent of TuiNa is more specifically therapeutic than the simple relaxation of Swedish-style massage. The style of Tui Na practiced in China today is closer to the work of chiropractors, osteopaths, and physical therapists than to that of massage therapists. It's taught as a separate but equal field of study in schools of Traditional Chinese Medicine, requiring the same level of training as acupuncturists and herbalists.

One of TuiNa's advantages over simple massage is its ability to focus on specific problems, especially chronic pain associated with the muscles, joints, and skeletal system. TuiNa does not simply work on the muscles, bones, and joints. It works with the energy of the body at a deeper level. As with other styles of Asian bodywork, TuiNa is designed to prevent problems, not just correct them. By keeping the body's energy in balance, health is maintained. This is true not just for physical health, but for mental and emotional well-being as well.

How does TuiNa work?

Like acupuncture, TuiNa also works with the Qi energy of the patient to bring the body to balance. But unlike acupuncture, no needles are used. The work is done entirely with the practitioner's hands to help remove blockages along the body's meridians and increase the beneficial flow of Qi through the patient's body. The practitioner may use range of motion, traction, massage, with the stimulation of acupressure points to open the body's defensive Qi and get the energy moving in the meridians as well as the muscles.

TuiNa methods include the use of hand techniques to massage the soft tissue (muscles and tendons) of the body, acupressure techniques to directly affect the flow of Qi, and manipulation techniques to realign the musculoskeletal and ligamentous relationships (bone-setting). Advanced TuiNa practitioners may also use external herbal poultices, compresses, liniments, and salves to facilitate quicker healing.

Depending on the specific problems of the client, a typical session lasts from 30 minutes to 1 hour. The major focus of application is upon specific pain sites, acupressure points, energy meridians, and muscles and joints. Patients usually feel relaxed but energized by the treatment.

What can be treated by TuiNa?

TuiNa is very effective at treating a wide variety of disorders by itself or when used with acupuncture or other Traditional Chinese Medicine treating methods, such as:

variety of pain (joint pain, arthritis, sciatica, muscle spasms, and pain in the back, neck, and shoulders), orthopedic problems, sports injuries, specific musculoskeletal disorders (stiffness, tension, spasm, cramp, inflamation, pains, numbness, and tingling), insomnia, constipation, headaches (including migraines), allergies and sinusitis, chronic stress-related emotional disorders, digestive disorders, respiratory conditions, reproductive dysfunctions and internal disease like obesity and diabetes etc. It can also generally improve poor blood circulation and related symptoms. It can help to improve muscle and skin tone for women after child birth, age-related changes in men and women, and patients who have suffered prolonged illnesses.

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