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Tui Na

In China, Tui Na dates back to the reign of emperor Huang, during which Tui Na was called Anwu. Originally a Chinese folk medicine, Tui Na is one of the first documented massage techniques in the world. Referenced, like acupuncture, in the seminal work of Chinese healing philosophy, The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine in about 300 B.C.E, more than 2500 years ago.

Throughout several millennia, Tui Na has co-evolved with other Asian techniques and Chinese medical theory. Many of its current techniques involve specific energy points and meridians, and the manipulations necessary to their efficacious treatment. In the sixth century B.C.E, a Japanese technique called An mo came to China by way of the Korean peninsula and was incorporated into Tui Na. Many texts in China and the United States still refer to Tui Na as An mo.

As time went on, Anmo was used as a term for both medical and relaxing massage. In 1949, the Chinese government officially recognised the medical benefits of the massage and renamed this aspect to Tui Na. ‘Tui’ meaning Push and ‘Na’ meaning Grasp. Tui Na was officially incorporated into Traditional Chinese Medicine as a medical therapy to be used for problems where acupuncture and herbs were less effective. The term Anmo is still used today as a term for non medical massage. Although gaining popularity and esteem, Tui Na still remains largely undiscovered and unutilized in the West.

At around 500 A.C.E, the first Tui Na specialists appeared, just around the Tang dynasty. The two most famous specialties are bone setting and pediatric massage. Tui Na was so successful, it spread around the globe. Tui Na is the basis upon which many modern complementary therapies are based, such as Shiatsu, Acupressure, Baby Massage, Deep Tissue Massage, Sports Massage, Lymphatic Draining to name but a few. Chiropractic and Physiotherapy manipulations are also founded on Tui Na techniques, particularly the specialist understanding of bone setting.

Today in China, every hospital has a Tui Na Department. Patients queue up from 8am every morning and have a huge range of symptoms, from prolapsed discs to frozen shoulder and sciatica, to diarrhea, high blood pressure, migraines, knee problems, tendonitis, tennis / golf elbow to sun stroke, menstrual problems, fatigue or insomnia. Even more symptoms are treated in the infantile Tui Na clinic within the department. Symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, enuresis, convulsions, common cold, asthma, fever, whooping cough, chicken pox to name a few. Even infantile short sightedness is treated through Tui Na massage.


What happens during a treatment?
The first treatment will normally be longer as a consultation will need to be carried out. You will be asked questions about your current symptoms and what treatment you have received so far, your medical history and that of your close family, your diet, digestive system, sleeping patterns and emotional state. Your pulses on both wrists will be taken, noting their quality, rhythm and strength. The structure, colour and coating of your tongue also gives a good guide to your physical health. Once enough information has been gathered to determine the likely causes of your problems, the most appropriate treatment will then be given.

Tui Na can be carried out in the sitting position, lying face down or face up. Loose, comfortable clothing should be worn, and you should not eat a full meal immediately before a treatment as you may need massage on the abdomen and this could be uncomfortable. Tui Na is performed through clothes and sometimes a sheet will be used to massage over. You may be asked to expose the torso or back so that an assessment, if necessary, can be made and sometimes ancillary therapies may be applied to the skin such as Cupping, Gua Sha, Moxibustion or application of external herbal formula.

What Does It Feel Like?
Because Tui Na is at the root of most forms of massage or body work, you may be familiar with many of the techniques. There are many styles, but these can be summerised as Yin Style and Yang Style

Yin Style treatments are very gentle and involve light stretches and manipulation. Breathing and visualisation techniques are an important part of the treatment. This style is very good for internal disease, emotional imbalance and relaxation.

Yang Style treatments involve dynamic strong pressure and manipulations; Plucking tendons and knots, breaking up adhesions and releasing external disease. It is excellent for treating muscular skeletal complaints.

What does Tui Na involve?
Tui Na uses the Traditional Chinese Medical theory of channels and collaterals (meridians or pathways) and the flow of the Qi energy as its basic therapeutic orientation. Through the application of massage and manipulation techniques, Tui Na seeks to establish a more harmonious Qi energy through the system of channels and collaterals, allowing the body to naturally heal itself. Tui Na 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 Qi through the system of channels and manipulation techniques to realign the muscular skeletal relationships. External herbal poultices, compresses, liniments and salves are also used to enhance the other therapeutic methods.


This site may contain information on medical and health-related topics. This information is not meant to be a substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professional. You should not use this information for diagnosing a health problem or disease but should always consult your own physician.