Tui Na is an ancient form of Chinese Massage and is sometimes called ‘anmo’. It comprises one of the major components of Chinese medicine alongside qi gong/tai chi, herbal medicine, nutritional therapy, and acupuncture. In the West, this type of bodywork is still relatively unknown, but in China, it is widely used in many Chinese clinics and hospitals. Tui Na has been practiced for over 3000 years, and several modern massage techniques like Shiatsu and Swedish massage have evolved from it.
In both theory and practice, Tui Na is dissimilar to any other type of massage. Besides treating the physical body, practitioners also work with the energetic body; they utilize what one would consider as massage techniques to relax the tension and knots out of the muscles, whilst stimulating the acupuncture points and energy channels (meridians) to balance and regulate the movement of qi or energy in the same manner as acupuncture. This means in Tui Na, there are several kinds of ‘acupressure’ techniques. In fact, Tui Na is sometimes referred to as ‘acupressure massage’, although that term is also applied to more basic acupressure methods that lack the understanding and underlying theories of Tui Na.
In general, there are two styles of Tui Na: the Yin and the Yang styles. Very light healing method using light touch is used in the Yin Style. It strengthens organ function, removes stagnation from the meridians, and balances and regulates the Qi. This therapy is an extremely relaxing and calming treatment.
To eliminate muscular tension and knots, the Yang style is a much more preferred style as it uses deep penetrating techniques. It is quite helpful in relaxing stiff and tight muscles, but in a painless manner, unlike most deep massages.
In fact, a competent practitioner will use both Yin and Yang styles as needed, and most therapies are somewhere between the two extremes. There are no preset routines, and therapies are always designed for each person based on their specific needs.
Tui Na involves the same specific diagnostic techniques and sophisticated understanding of the mind and body as other branches of Chinese medicine such as acupuncture. This is what makes it distinct from other types of massages. The theory and practice of Tui Na are basically inseparable.
This makes it appropriate conditions other than muscular problems. Basically, it can be used to successfully treat a number of ‘internal’ conditions including hormonal, psycho-emotional, digestive, circulatory, and respiratory conditions to name a few. It is also an ideal way to deal with stress and maintain health.
Before starting treatment, the practitioner will perform a full Chinese Diagnosis on the patient, just as one would if he was receiving acupuncture. The practitioner will ask a series of questions about your overall health and complaint. Then he will take your pulse and tongue.
Afterwards, the practitioner will then proceed with the treatment itself that will be customized to your unique needs, and is usually undertaken over clothing. Sometimes, if oil is to be used, the practitioner will ask to remove some of your clothing.
The practitioner takes clues from the patient’s body to determine the appropriate strength of the techniques and the procedure should involve no pain even when strong techniques are used. In certain instances, only very gentle and light techniques are used, although they can be just as effective.