What is Tui Na?

Originating in China in 2300 B.C, Tui Na is the oldest known system of massage. It is recorded in the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine as one of the five major therapies of the time and has remained an organized and systematically developed system of massage since that time.  In China Tui Na is currently taught as a separate, but equal field of study in the major traditional Chinese medical colleges. Tui Na doctors receive the same demanding training as acupuncturists and herbalists and enjoy the same level of professional respect.

Tui Na uses the Traditional Chinese Medical theory of channels and collaterals (meridians or pathways) and the flow of Qi (vital energy) as its basic therapeutic orientation. Through the application of massage and manipulation techniques, Tui Na seeks to establish a more harmonious flow of Qi through the meridians, allowing the body to naturally heal itself. Tui Na methods include the use of hand and arm techniques to massage the soft tissue (muscles and tendons) of the body, stimulation of acupressure points to directly affect the flow of Qi, and manipulation techniques to realign the musculoskeletal and ligamentous relationships (bone setting). External herbal poultices, compresses, liniments and salves are also used to enhance the other therapeutic methods.  

In China there are four main schools of study that emphasize particular aspects of these therapeutic principles. These include the rolling method school which emphasizes soft tissue techniques and specializes in joint injuries and muscle sprains. The one finger pushing method school emphasizes techniques for acupressure and the treatment of internal diseases.  The NeiGung method school emphasizes the use of Nei Gung Qi generation exercises and specific massage methods for revitalizing depleted energy systems. The bone setting methods school emphasizes manipulation techniques to realign the musculoskeletal and ligamentous relationships and specializes in joint injuries and nerve pain. In addition to these four main schools, there are hundreds of “family systems” that have been passed on from generation to generation and utilize aspects of each major system.

Who can benefit from Tui Na?

Everyone can benefit from a Tui Na session. Tui Na focuses upon specific problems, rather than a more generalized treatment.  Tui Na utilizes light to deep pressure to increase circulation and remove stagnation to help bring balance to the body, mind and spirit.  It is well suited for the treatment of specific musculoskeletal disorders, sprains and strains, acute and chronic pain, and TMJ. However, it successfully treats chronic stress-related disorders of the digestive, respiratory and reproductive systems; for example, asthma, allergies, diabetes, headaches, stomach upset, menstrual pains/cramps as well as many other disorders.  Over the centuries it has proven to be an effective therapeutic tool and its theory and accomplishments are well documented. The best way to learn about Tui Na massage is to experience its benefits and pleasure for yourself.

What is a typical Tui Na treatment like?

In a typical session, the client, wearing loose clothing and no shoes, lies on a massage table. If it is necessary to remove a piece of clothing for a portion or all of your treatment, you will be properly draped at all times.

The practitioner examines the specific problems of the client and begins to apply a treatment protocol. The major focus of application is upon specific pain sites, acupressure points, energy meridians, and muscles and joints. The amount of pressure utilized in a Tui Na Bodywork session may be light to deep depending on what the practitioner is working on. The client usually feels deeply relaxed but energized by the treatment and depending on the specific problem of the client, they may need to return for weekly or monthly treatments.