Tui Na, literally meaning push and pull is the Chinese version of the Oriental acupressure massage. It’s application is based on a very similar diagnostic system to that used in Shiatsu, working with meridians (or energy pathways in the body), acupuncture points and related aspects of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is the massage branch of Chinese medicine, allied with acupuncture, herbal medicine and Tai Chi or Chi Kung. It is generally more rigorous and physically dynamic than Shiatsu and has similarities with Thai Massage, particularly Southern styles.
Tui Na Massage is a deep acupressure massage given fully clothed on a massage table. In contrast to Shiatsu which works to balance the energy in the meridians as a whole, Tui na focuses on stimulating the acupuncture points along the meridians. The action of the points then has an influence on the energy in the organs and meridians, whether to stimulate or sedate, but always to harmonise.
Tui Na massage is very effective in releasing muscular tension and stiffness, yet its applications are far wider. It is just as effective at treating emotional and psychological conditions, as well as other non-muscular physical complaints e.g. digestive complaints such as IBS.
The points used during a Tui Na massage are selected both before and during the session and are based upon several diagnostic tools. Some will be chosen in relation to any complaint the client reports beforehand and some will be chosen during the session where specific attention is found to be needed. I will base a diagnosis on other qualities that a client presents such as how they speak, breath, live in their body and the overall picture of how they look and feel. These factors give me an idea of what qualities are involved, based on the Chinese 5 element theory and the qualities of the organs. I may also ask to look at someone’s tongue as this gives much accurate information as to their condition.
In Chinese thought, each organ and every other part of the human being has a defined set of qualities (though everything is fluid rather than absolute). You may even see them as different personalities. These qualities relate to both the physical person and to their non physical associated aspects i.e. the emotions and thoughts. All the parts we see as separate are considered ultimately to be one, made of the same energy or Chi. So by influencing the Chi in a person’s body, any affect may be brought about, and which is not restricted to only the physical.
Tui na is very beneficial for alleviating and releasing muscular tension, pain and stiffness of many kinds, including joint problems. It is also useful for correcting poor postural habits.
The massage uses a lot of movement such as rocking, various rubbing techniques and others unique to Tui Na. It is given in a brisk, lively manner so is very invigorating and good for dispersing surface tension and stagnation – a condition commonly arising in office bound workers, particularly in the back area. The rubbing and shaking movements (to the limbs) are strangely both relaxing and revitalizing.
Much emphasis is given to stimulating the acupuncture points which can sometimes be quite tender. These often lie on tendons which can be tight. This is usually an indication of imbalance and helpful diagnostically too. You will usually find that as the session progresses any painful areas will reduce in intensity as the energies of your body become more balanced. Stretching and joint manipulation will also be incorporated into a session though this is always dependent on the client’s needs at the time.