What is Tui Na?
Tui Na uses rhythmic compression along energy channels of the body, as well as a variety of techniques that manipulate and lubricate the joints and Tui Na directly affects the flow of energy by holding and pressing the body at acupressure points.
Tui Na is the form of Asian bodywork most closely resembling conventional western massage. Many of the techniques are similar — gliding (known as effleurage or Tui), kneading (petrissage or Nie), percussion (tapotement or Da), friction, pulling, rotation, rocking, vibration, and shaking. Despite the similarities, the intent of Tui Na is more specifically therapeutic than the simple relaxation of a Swedish-style massage.
One of Tui Na’s advantages over simple massage is its ability to focus on specific problems, especially chronic pain associated with the muscles, joints, and skeletal system. It’s especially effective for joint pain (such as arthritis), sciatica, muscle spasms, and pain in the back, neck, and shoulders. It also helps chronic conditions such as insomnia, constipation, headaches (including migraines), and the tension associated with stress.
Tui Na does not simply work on the muscles, bones, and joints. It works with the energy of the body at a deeper level. As the practitioner senses the client’s body with her hands, she is able to assess the distribution of energy and affect its flow.
As with other styles of Asian bodywork, Tui Na 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.
Tui Na survived as a popular form of healing among the general Chinese population, who have long practiced Anmo. Anmo is the general term for massage in Chinese, whereas Tui Na is a more specialized term indicating practices based on the theories of Chinese medicine.
The style of Tui Na practiced 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.
Tuina is well suited for the treatment of specific musculoskeletal disorders and chronic stress-related disorders of the digestive, respiratory and reproductive systems. Effective treatment protocols have been tested in a practical setting. Tuina is not especially useful for those seeking a mild, sedating and relaxing massage since it tends to be more task focused than other types of bodywork. Contraindications include conditions involving fractures, phlebitis, infectious conditions, open wounds, and lesions.