Tuina Chinese Massage

When we think about western bodywork, the cliché picture that comes to mind is the sweaty boxer getting a Swedish massage rub down before the big fight. Over the years, bodywork in the West has become a lot more sophisticated from movement systems like Feldenkrais (based on Judo and other Japanese martial arts) to polarity work that is as much energy work as physical manipulation.

But did you know that thousands of years before athletes in America got oiled up, there was a Chinese form of bodywork called Tuina that East Asian martial arts schools employed for the treatment and management of injury and pain during training? Tuina is a hands-on body treatment that uses Chinese taoist and martial art principles to bring the body into to balance.

The term Tuina translates literally from the Chinese meaning push-grasp or poke-pinch. Like acupuncture and acupressure, Tuina is a series of pressing tapping and kneading with fingertips or implements that remove blockages along the meridians of the body, stimulating the flow of Qi.

In ancient China, medical therapy was often classified into "external" and "internal" treatments. Tuina was one of the external methods, especially suitable for use on the elderly population and on infants. Modern Traditional Chinese Medicine divides Tuina into specialized treatments for infants, adults, orthopedics, trauma, cosmetology, rehabilitation, and sports medicine.

Tuina is based on the Traditional Chinese Medical theory of channels and the flow of Qi in the body. Through the application of massage, Tuina is used to establish harmonious Qi energy through the system of channels and collaterals, allowing the body to naturally heal itself. Tuina massage utilizes hand and arm techniques to stimulate acupressure points to directly affect the flow of Qi, move energy through the meridians and restore muscular-skeletal structure. The Tuina massage technique implements light stroking, kneading, rolling, pressing, rubbing, and deep tissue work.

If you are not quite ready for acupuncture needles perhaps stimulating your acupressure points through the ancient Chinese technique of Tuina can introduce you to Traditional Chinese Medicine in a gentle, non-invasive way.

Bobbie Rene Parke,
M.Ac.O.M., L.Ac., Dipl.Ac.

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