TUINA MASSAGE & PHYSICAL THERAPY
Does TCM include Tuina massage?
Over 5,000 years, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has evolved systematic methods of
diagnosis and treatment tailored to the individual's subtle patterns of disharmony.
This allows it to not only treat fully manifest diseases, but also to assist in maintaining
health and balance (i.e. wellness) to prevent illnesses from occurring.
Tuina, the oldest therapy, is one of six major modalities in TCM:
- Tuina: Massage & Physical therapy
- Acupuncture: Needle on an acupoint
- Herbs: Herbal Medicine, Dietary Supplements (seasonal adjustment)
- Moxibustion: Burning an herbal stick placed above an acupoint
- Cupping: Vacuum suction cups on the skin (near acupoints)
- Therapeutic exercises: Tai Chi, Qi Gong and many others
What is Tuina?
Tuina (also called An mo) is the oldest known system of massage and physical therapy in the
world. Originating in China 15,000 years ago, the oldest record of medical massage for trauma was
carved on turtle shells. In the Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal
Medicine (the first comprehensive treaty of Chinese medicine) from 230 B.C., Tuina was described
as one of the five major therapies of the time. Tuina has remained an organized and
systematically developed form of massage and physical therapy since that time. Currently in China, Tuina
is taught as a separate but equal field of study in the major traditional Chinese medical schools.
Tuina doctors receive the same demanding training as acupuncturists and herbalists,
and enjoy the same level of professional respect.
Tuina uses the Traditional Chinese Medical theory of channels and collaterals
(meridians or pathways) and the flow of the Chi energy, as its basic therapeutic orientation.
Through the application of massage and manipulation techniques, Tuina seeks to establish a
more harmonious Chi energy through the system of channels and collaterals, allowing the body
to naturally heal itself. Tuina 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 Chi energy through the system of channels and collaterals, and manipulation
techniques to realign the musculo-skeletal and ligamentous relationships (bone setting).
External herbal poultices, compresses, liniments and salves are also used to enhance the
other therapeutic methods.
How many different techniques does Tuina therapy offer?
Tuina has a variety of different systems that emphasize particular aspects of therapeutic
effects. The main schools in China include the rolling method school, which emphasizes soft
tissue techniques and specializes in joint injuries and muscle sprains; the one finger
pushing method school, which emphasizes techniques for acupressure and the treatment of
internal diseases; the Neigong (internal) method school, which emphasizes the use of
Neigong Chi generation exercises and specific massage methods for revitalizing depleted
energy systems; and the bone setting methods school, which emphasizes manipulation methods
to realign the musculo-skeletal 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.
Which health conditions can Tuina treat?
Tuina is well suited for the treatment of headaches, specific musculoskeletal disorders
(stiffness, spasm, cramp, inflamation, pains, numbness, and tingling), allergies and sinusitis,
chronic stress-related emotional disorders, digestive disorders, respiratory conditions, and
reproductive dysfunctions. It can generally improve poor blood circulation and
related symptoms. It can help to improve muscle and skin tone for women
after child birth, age-related changes in men and women, and patients who have suffered
How is Tuina used at Chi Wellness Clinic?
At Chi Wellness Clinic, Tuina is considered a major therapy. It is a deep and strong
manipulation involving mostly the hands. Patients may feel some soreness for a couple of
days after a session of Tuina (similar to a workout), and then experience deep relief of
tension and pain that can last for 1-2 weeks. Tuina is in contrast to many massage establisments
in the U.S., where massage is light, as for "relaxation" and pampering. At our Chronic Pains and Injuries
Specialty Unit, we have developed a proprietary treatment protocol in which we combine
Tuina with acupuncture and/or Chinese herbs to treat chronic pain and inflammation.
We use Tuina to detect sore and tight spots in the body, and then relieve them
locally. At this stage, we hope to eliminate secondary pains. Next we achieve
sustainable relaxation and relief in those spots. At this stage, we hope to
identify the primary pains and the underlying causes (injuries), which may include:
traumatic injuries, wear and tear, poor posture, auto-immune attacks, and prolonged
emotional or mental stresses. Finally, we try to heal the primary injuries.
The treatment serves to quickly mobilize one's innate capabilities to heal
primary injuries, underlying chronic pains and other skeletal or neuromuscular dysfunctions.
The end point is to activate the body to heal the injuries and to restore its
physiological balance. The treatment, combined with exercises and stretches,
also serves to prevent pain and other neuromuscular dysfunctions to from becoming chronic.
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Provider of Acupuncture, Herb, Massage & Tai-Chi in Massachusetts