What is Tuina


Tuina (pronounced tway-na), and An Mo represent different aspects of Chinese massage or acupressure, which like all forms of Chinese Medicine, trace its origins back to the Huang Di Neijing – the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine from 2300B.C.

Actually, the practice of Tuina dates back to the Shang Dynasty of China, 1700 B.C. Oracle bones show that Tuina massage was used to treat children’s diseases and digestive complaints in adults. As a therapy, it was especially popular in the Tang Dynasty (618-907 BC) and in the Ming Dynasty (1368 -1644 BC) and Qing Dynasty (1644 -1912 BC), many classics on Tuina were written. Five major styles of Tuina are currently differentiated in the lower Yangtze River valley. Of these, Guen Fa or Rolling Technique and Yi Zhi Chan Fa or Zen One-Finger method, are the two primary ones.

Tuina flourished throughout China until the Qing Dynasty, where it was suppressed along with other Chinese cultural arts. Following the Communist revolution, Tuina was restored along with other traditional medical arts and was included in the creation of the current system of Traditional Medicine Colleges. Currently, Tuina is taught as a separate but equal field of study in the major traditional Chinese medical colleges. Tuina doctors receive the same demanding training as acupuncturists and herbalists and enjoy the same level of professional respect.

What is Tuina?

Tuina is a highly refined system of medical massage designed to treat specific pathologies, known in China as needle-less acupuncture, where the practitioner uses the same acu points as an acupuncture with the needle. In all traditional Chinese Hospitals there are Tuina wards, where doctors of medical massage treat patients for joint and muscle pathologies, insomnia, hypertension, headaches, toothaches, stomach. aches, neuralgia’s, etc. At such hospitals, Tuina is one of the most popular treatment modalities due to its effectiveness and comfort level.

Like most Chinese therapies, Tuina is also based on the traditional Chinese medical theory of the flow of Qi through the meridians as its basic therapeutic orientation. Through the application of acupressure, massage and manipulation techniques Tuina seeks to establish a more harmonious flow of Qi through the system of channels and collaterals, allowing the body to heal itself naturally. 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 musculo-skeletal and ligament relationships (bone-setting).

Although, it is used to primarily relieve pain in the musculo-skeletal body, Tuina is also used to treat common ailments.

The Methodology

Chinese massage techniques are simple and effective. Massage clears the meridians of blockages, stimulates circulation of blood and energy, loosens stiff joints and muscles, and raises vitality and resistance to disease.

It is most commonly used in cases of acute back strain, sprained joints, pulled muscles and tendons, rheumatism and arthritis, nerve paralysis, prolapse of internal organs, sciatica, and similar ailments. There are many massage techniques, but the most common and effective are focus on the nerve centres and meridians that run from the base of the neck down to the heels, especially along either side of the spinal column. The ball of the thumb is used to alternately push hard, then rub lightly along and around the site of massage.

This method simultaneously stimulates the internal organs connected to the meridians and nerves, while it tones up the muscles, tendons and ligaments through which the nerves and meridians run.

In a typical session, the client, wearing loose clothing and no shoes, lies on a plinth table. The practitioner examines the specific problems of the client and begins to apply a specific treatment protocol. The major focus of application is upon specific pain sites, acupressure points, energy meridians, and muscles and joints.

Advanced Tuina practitioners may also use Chinese herbs to facilitate quicker healing. Sessions last from 30 minutes to 1 hour. Depending on the specific problems of the client, they may return for additional treatments. The client usually feels relaxed but energised by the treatment. Tuina is now being popularised globally as a powerful therapeutic extension of traditional western massage methods.

Tuina simplicity and focus on specific problems, rather than a more generalised treatment, make it both an excellent alternative and/or extension of the Swedish-style massage. By utilising treatments of shorter duration, it can be used in a variety of settings, including home, office, clinic or hospital. It is well suited for both the professional massage therapist and the active, health conscious individual.

Tuina massage therapy is a very effective way to remove muscular tension and spasm, in which it can not only relax the muscles but also get rid of the cause that leads to the muscular tension. The function and mechanism of Tuina massage therapy consist of three parts:

  • Firstly, it can locally promote blood circulation and raise body temperature.
  • Secondly, it can increase the threshold value of pain of tissue with appropriate stimulation.
  • Thirdly, it can extend the tense and spasmodic muscles so that the illness can be eliminated.

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Other Resources:

Tuina Confidence.
Tuina Massage for Babies.
Autism and Tuina.
Tuina benefits Depression.
Study a Professional Diploma in Tuina.