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A Comprehensive Guide To Tuina Massage

Edited By: Natalia Jones
 Tuina massage is believed to be practiced in Ancient China since 1700 BC, making it the oldest known type of therapeutic massage. Apart from its ancient origins, however, Tuina massage has been proven to be an effective treatment of several health conditions, as well as an excellent preventative measure for pain and chronic illnesses. Learn everything you need to know about Tuina and its health benefits in this article.

An Introduction To Tuina

How It Works. Tuina is a branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine that focuses on balancing out the qi, the vital force of the body, by massaging and applying pressure to areas where the flow of said vital energy was blocked by illness or trauma. Similarly to acupuncture, it targets specific pressure points, but Tuina practitioners use their hands instead of needles.
In fact, the two are often used in conjunction with each other to achieve the wanted result. The goal of the practice is to restore the healthy flow of life energy throughout the body by unclogging the blocks that emerge when a person is sick or injured.
Tuina massage guide massage

Tuina Massage is used to treat physical or mental conditions, such as trauma, and is an effective preventative measure that can help you maintain your health. The massage technique can relax your body and mind, so it can be used to treat stress, fatigue, anxiety, and depression, and it encourages healthy sleep. Chronic stress and pain in the neck, lower back, as well as conditions like arthritis, osteoporosis, carpal tunnel syndrome and headaches can also be treated with Tuina.

The Methods. A session of Tuina massage may be very different depending on your concern:

  • The intensity and how deep of a massage you get will vary.
  • The practitioner may or may not move your limbs or neck to restore their mobility.
  • The specialist may or may not use herbal compresses, lotions, and ointments during a session. 

There are 8 core movements in Tuina massage:

1. palpating
2. kneading
3. pressing
4. pushing
5. holding
6. rejoining
7. lifting
8. opposing.

A practitioner may also use additional techniques to target a specific concern, such as:

  • To stimulate a specific acupressure point, the one-finger technique may be used.
  • For patients with strains or sprains, a practitioner may use rolling motions.
  • To stimulate the entire body, the nei gung technique may be used.

In the video below, you can view a quick demo of some of the techniques used in Tuina, just press the play button for it to start.

The Health Benefits Of Tuina Massage 

1. A treatment of depression

Tuina massage may not only relieve a patient from depressive symptoms immediately, but it can have a long-term therapeutic effect on the body and mind. A 2015 review article even concluded that it may improve depressive symptoms and can be considered a new treatment for depression.

2. Reduces neck, back, and joint pain

Tuina massage guide eck, back and joint pain

Any sorts of musculoskeletal issues can be treated using Tuina massage. It can relieve pain, tightness, tension, and irritation in the neck and lower back, but also joint, bone and muscle pain. One study concluded, however, that the best results in back pain are observed when Tuina massage is combined with core-strengthening exercises.

3. Helps Osteoarthritis Symptoms

Tuina massage guide osteoarthritis
BruceBlaus/ Wikimedia Commons

Symptoms of osteoarthritis, such as pain, tension, stiffness, and loss of flexibility can be alleviated using Tuina massage. The study that reached this conclusion did point out, however, that a longer treatment period is necessary to see significant results (the participants received treatments for 9 months 3 times a week).

4.  Can Help Cancer Patients

People undergoing cancer treatment and those with terminal cancer often suffer from an array of symptoms that vary depending on the type of cancer, but a 2016 review article concluded that the quality of life of these patients may be improved using Tuina massage, especially when combined with acupuncture.

5. Improves Blood Circulation

Tuina massage guide Blood Circulation
A goal of many massage techniques, and especially Tuina, is to normalize the blood flow and blood circulation throughout the body. And though there is little scientific evidence to back this claim, a small study did find that applying medium pressure for 10 minutes to a point called BL 56 (situated approximately in the middle of the calve muscles on each leg) improved the blood circulation of healthy volunteers.

6. Promotes lactation

Tuina massage guide lactation
According to a 2012 article, Tuina massage of the breasts can help mothers produce more milk and it is even often used to encourage lactation in women suffering from postpartum depression.

7. Relieves carpal tunnel syndrome

Tuina massage guide carpal tunnel syndrome
Manu5/ Wikimedia Commons
Carpal syndrome is characterized by sharp, debilitating pain in the wrists, and it is usually difficult to treat. A combination of Tuina massage and warm-needling acupuncture may be an effective treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome, being capable of significantly relieving the pain associated with the condition.

8. May aid diabetes patients with foot issues

Tuina massage guide diabetes foot

Diabetes patients sometimes suffer from foot issues referred to as diabetes foot. At advanced stages, it can lead to tissue necrosis, but early stages are manifested by lack of sensation in the foot, as well as tingling or burning sensations and pain, and these early-stage symptoms have been shown to significantly improve with a combination of Tuina massage and traditional Chinese foot bath, especially when combined with the traditional medical treatment for the condition.

Disclaimer: keep in mind that Tuina massage is not a first-line treatment of the conditions mentioned above and you have to consult your medical provider or doctor before making an appointment with a Tuina specialist.

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