Tuina Massage: Benefits, Techniques, and More (2022)

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Tuina or tui-na (pronounced twee-nah) massage originated in ancient China and is believed to be the oldest system of bodywork. It’s one of the four main branches of traditional Chinese medicine, along with acupuncture, qi gong, and Chinese herbal medicine.

It’s based on the theory that imbalances of qi, which is the body’s vital life force or energy, can cause blockages or imbalances that lead to symptoms such as pain and illness.

Tuina massage stimulates the flow of qi to promote balance and harmony within the body using many of the same principles of acupuncture.

It’s similar to acupuncture in the way it targets specific acupoints, but practitioners use fingers instead of needles to apply pressure to stimulate these points. Tuina massage is often used in combination with acupuncture.

The philosophy and principles of tuina massage are based on traditional Chinese medicine, which focuses on emotional and physical components of a person’s well-being, as well as aspects such as climate, relationships, and diet.

The underlying philosophy of tuina massage is that true health is achieved when one has found harmony and balance inside the self and their environment.

The goal of tuina massage is to create harmony in the yin and yang of the body by getting rid of blockages and disturbances that manifest as illness, disease, and emotional issues.

Similar to acupuncture, tuina massage uses the same energetic meridians and acupoints to balance the qi and blood in your body, leading to better health. Qi that’s flowing incorrectly can cause blockages, such as poor blood circulation in the affected area.

The main therapeutic goal of tuina massage is to remove the energetic blocks that are causing qi stagnation.

Technique

(Video) Acupuncture Tui Na Massage

During a session, practitioners use oscillating and pressure techniques that differ in force and speed. Tuina massage can be done as a stronger deep-tissue massage or a more gentle, energetic treatment.

Some techniques are more yin, which is more gentle, passive, and meditative. The yang approach is more active, dynamic, and physical, creating more intense sensations by stimulating deep blockages and knots.

The practitioner massages the muscles and tendons and uses manipulation techniques to realign the body. Passive joint movements are used to restore function to muscles and joints.

Depending on your practitioner as well as your specific needs, various techniques will be used in a session. To enhance the effects of the treatment, herbal poultices or compresses, lotions, and salves are used.

Tuina massage uses massage techniques such as acupressure, myofascial release, and reflexology. Sometimes, techniques that are common to osteopathy and chiropractic, such as stretching and joint mobilizations, are also used.

There are eight basic techniques used in tuina massage:

  • palpating (mo)
  • rejoining (jie)
  • opposing (duan)
  • lifting (ti)
  • pressing (an)
  • kneading (mo)
  • pushing (tui)
  • holding (na)

Other techniques include:

  • Rolling. This is used for injuries such as sprains and strains.
  • One-finger technique. This is one-finger stimulation of acupressure points.
  • Nei gung. This is a full-body manipulation technique.

Watch this video for a demonstration of some of the tuina massage techniques:

Tuina massage can be used to treat specific health concerns or areas in the body. Since tuina massage is considered to be an alternative treatment, it’s essential that you talk to your doctor before using it to treat any medical condition.

Tuina massage can be used to treat pain and illness, or to maintain good health. The technique is effective in reducing stress, encouraging relaxation, and deepening sleep. It’s often used for conditions and injuries related to the musculoskeletal and nervous systems.

Here are some conditions tuina massage can treat:

  • neck and back pain
  • musculoskeletal disorders
  • premenstrual syndrome
  • fatigue and insomnia
  • carpal tunnel
  • headaches
  • arthritis
  • osteoporosis
  • stress
  • digestive conditions
  • respiratory conditions

Benefits

(Video) An Introduction to Tuina Massage

While some of the research is preliminary and ongoing, there’s plenty of evidence to back the effectiveness of tuina massage in treating health conditions. Let’s see what some of the studies say about the benefits.

1. Boosts blood circulation

One of the main intentions of tuina massage is to boost blood circulation by stimulating the body’s energy flow.

A small 2015 study indicates that yi zhi chan tuina manipulation on BL 56 acupoint is effective in improving circulation. In this study, manipulation using medium force for 10 minutes was found to be more effective than treatments using light or heavy force for shorter amounts of time.

Larger studies are needed to expand on these findings.

2. Reduces neck pain

Tuina massage relieves neck pain and the accompanying tension, tightness, and irritation.

A 2018 study concluded that tuina massage is a cost-effective option for reducing pain in people with chronic neck pain. People who received six tuina treatments within three weeks reduced the intensity of their neck pain more than people who had no treatment.

Further research that compares tuina to other treatments is necessary, though.

3. Relieves low back pain

Tuina massage can relieve lower back pain, especially when treatment is paired with core exercises.

Researchers in a 2016 study found that tuina massage was more effective when combined with core stability exercises in people with low back pain.

People who did tuina massage alone had higher rates of back pain at follow-up compared to people who incorporated core exercises to their treatment.

4. Treats depression

Focusing on whole-body healing is essential for people with depression, since the causes can be both physical and emotional.

A 2015 review of studies concluded that tuina massage has a therapeutic effect on depression. It was shown to be significantly more effective in reducing depression than conventional treatments.

More high-quality studies are needed to confirm and expand on these findings.

5. Promotes healthy lactation

Tuina massage is used to encourage postpartum lactation.

The results of a 2012 study showed that tuina massage on breasts increased the quantity of lactation compared to women who received only conventional treatment.

(Video) What is Tui Na Massage?

Though no significant difference was found between the groups in terms of delaying the decrease of prolactin levels, researchers believe tuina massage could have a positive effect in this area. It could help new mothers produce greater quantities of milk more quickly.

6. Treats osteoarthritis

The therapeutic benefits of tuina massage extend to alleviating symptoms of osteoarthritis.

According to a small 2011 study, it improves muscular tension of the flexor and extensor muscles in people with knee osteoarthritis. The treatment used gun, an, na, and ca maneuvers. The patients received treatments three times per week over the course of nine months.

Patients saw improvement in pain, stiffness, and function.

7. Eases carpal tunnel syndrome

According to this 2010 study, tuina massage can relieve symptoms from carpal tunnel syndrome.

People with carpal tunnel syndrome who received warm-needling acupuncture in addition to tuina massage showed significantly more improvements than people who were treated using hormone block therapy and medication.

8. Treats musculoskeletal disorders

Tuina massage is often used to improve function and reduce pain affecting the joints, bones, and muscles.

A 2017 review and meta-analysis points to the effectiveness of tuina massage in treating musculoskeletal disorders. The technique was shown to be effective in relieving pain, especially compared to traction, medication, and physical therapies.

Evidence to support better function wasn’t as strong as pain reduction. Further research is needed to expand on these findings.

9. Benefits foot issues from diabetes

Tuina massage can be beneficial for people with diabetes who have foot issues.

A 2018 study found that tuina massage combined with a Chinese medicine foot bath was therapeutically beneficial for people with early-stage diabetic foot.

People who received tuina massage and a foot bath in addition to conventional medicine showed significant improvements compared to people who received only conventional medicine.

10. Improves quality of life in cancer patients

Tuina massage is a viable option for people with cancer who want to manage symptoms related to the disease and its conventional treatment.

A 2016 meta-analysis assessed the effect of tuina massage on improving symptoms and quality of life for people with cancer. The meta-analysis also looked at the effects of:

  • acupuncture
  • tai chi
  • qi gong
  • traditional Chinese medicine five-element music therapy

When combined with acupuncture, tuina massage was effective in improving quality of life in people with terminal cancer. Tuina massage was also shown to be effective in relieving stomach discomfort.

Though tuina massage shows promise as a therapy to treat people with cancer, more in-depth research is needed, as many of the studies had limitations.

(Video) Tuina Massage on The Low Back Gun Fa An Fa

Learn about some of the self-massage techniques for side effects of cancer treatments here.

Tuina massage is a safe treatment and is generally well-tolerated. However, remember that it’s not a gentle or relaxing massage, and you may feel some discomfort during or after a session. Slight bruising is possible.

It’s not recommended for people who have fractures or are prone to fractures, vein inflammation, or any type of open wound. It’s also not recommended for people with previous chronic back issues, such as ankylosing spondylitis.

Talk to your doctor before adding tuina massage to your treatment plan if you have any health concerns. Your doctor may recommend that you use tuina massage as a complement to conventional treatment.

Additionally, they may recommend another alternative treatment to be used alongside tuina massage. If you experience any adverse effects or changes to your condition after a tuina treatment, talk to your doctor.

Tuina massage is a healing technique that offers an array of benefits. If you’re interested in trying it, contact a certified practitioner through the American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia.

As with many healing modalities, tuina massage works well when combined with other natural treatments and a healthy lifestyle. Your practitioner may encourage you to do self-massage, stretches, and exercises on your own to increase the benefits of each treatment.

(Video) Massage Techniques : How to Give Chinese Tui Na Massage

FAQs

How is Tuina massage done? ›

Tuina practitioners use a combination of hand and arm techniques to massage and realign the recipient's muscles, bones, ligaments, and tendons. These techniques can include kneading, pressing, rolling, shaking, and stretching. Similar to acupuncture, the practitioner stimulates pressure points in the recipient's body.

What are 3 techniques used in massage therapy? ›

There are three main massage techniques that you'll find used by all of the pros, and they all serve different functions. You'll most often see the Swedish massage, the Deep Tissue massage, and the Sports massage offered at a professional massage studio near you.

What is a deep Tuina massage? ›

Tui Na, (pronounced “twee na”) is a deep tissue Chinese massage, and is a fundamental part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), along with Acupuncture, Acupressure, Chinese Herbs, Cupping, Moxibustion, Tai Chi and Qi Gong. Tui Na is used in many hospitals in China as the first and only choice of healthcare.

Is Tui Na massage relaxing? ›

Tui Na is intended to be both relaxing and invigorating. Some techniques and strokes used in Tui Na are much like those used in a relaxing Swedish massage, such as gliding, kneading, rocking, pulling, friction, and rolling.

What is Tui Na good for? ›

Tuina massage can be used to treat pain and illness, or to maintain good health. The technique is effective in reducing stress, encouraging relaxation, and deepening sleep. It's often used for conditions and injuries related to the musculoskeletal and nervous systems.

What should I not do after Tui Na? ›

After Tui Na Massage
  • Rest. After a Tui Na massage session, your body will be going through a rebalancing as it responds to the treatment. ...
  • Avoid Vigorous Exercise. For several hours after the treatment, avoid strenuous exercise to keep your body in relaxation mode.
  • Avoid Stress. ...
  • Drink Water.
21 May 2021

What massage technique is best? ›

5 Easiest Massage Therapy Techniques
  • Kneading. Perhaps the most easily performed by amateurs, kneading involves either using your thumbs or your palms to apply pressure onto various parts of the body. ...
  • Effleurage (Light/Deep Stroking) ...
  • Rubbing. ...
  • Tapotement or Tapping. ...
  • Vibration Or Shaking.

What are the 5 massage techniques? ›

In summary, the 5 types of Swedish techniques are effleurage, petrissage, tapotement, friction, and vibration, which all encourage circulation and the softening of connective tissue.

What is the most relaxing body massage? ›

Shiatsu massage is best for people who want to feel relaxed and relieve stress, pain, and tension. It's a Japanese type of massage that: promotes emotional and physical calm and relaxation.

Is Tui Na the same as acupressure? ›

What is the difference between Tui Na and Acupressure? Tui Na uses pressure with movement, Acupressure uses static pressure.

How do you pronounce Tui Na massage? ›

Tui Na is pronounced 'tweena'. 'Ancient massage that will rock and roll away your pain' is derived from the Chinese words 'Tui' meaning to push and 'Na' meaning to grasp, two techniques fundamental to traditional Chinese medical massage and medicine.

What is Chinese medical massage? ›

Chinese massage is based on the principle of Qi or vital energy. Traditional Chinese Medicine massage therapists use their elbows, fingers, and hands to rhythmically stimulate acupuncture points, producing a vibration that influences the flow of energy through the body.

What is Tui Na body work? ›

The term tui na (pronounced "twee naw"), which literally means "pinch and pull," refers to a wide range of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) therapeutic massage and body work. Tui na is not generally used for pleasure and relaxation, but rather as a treatment to address specific patterns of disharmony.

How do you massage a person? ›

How To Give A Deep Stress Relief Back Massage - YouTube

How does massage relieve pain? ›

Therapeutic massage may relieve pain by way of several mechanisms, including relaxing painful muscles, tendons, and joints; relieving stress and anxiety; and possibly helping to “close the pain gate” by stimulating competing nerve fibers and impeding pain messages to and from the brain.

How often should you get Chinese massage? ›

Q: How often do I need a massage to take advantage of its benefits? A: Massage can be considered as part of your long term well-being. To keep receiving the massage related benefits, it's recommended to have a massage session once a month or every six weeks.

Can I shower after Tuina? ›

WHAT ARE THE RESPONSES AFTER TUINA? Please drink a glass of warm water after TuiNa, and avoid cold shower for an hour following completion of therapy. During the first few days after treatment, soreness, mild skin redness and swelling are normal.

Can I bathe after Tuina? ›

After cupping, the skin is in a state of healing, making it more sensitive and fragile. Taking a shower or bath at this time can potentially lead to skin damage or inflammation. So the answers here are to avoid showering and bathing for a few hours both before AND after a massage, cupping, or spa-type session.

Is Tui Na considered TCM? ›

Tui na (Chinese bodywork) is based on the theory of meridians and collaterals and is a special form of massage that utilizes techniques specific to Chinese medicine. It involves stimulation of areas along specific pathways and is considered a major area of specialty within TCM.

What is the most stimulating form of massage? ›

What is Tapotement? Consists of fast tapping, patting, and hacking movements. This form of massage is the most stimulating and should be applied carefully and with discretion.

What should you not do during a massage? ›

What NOT to Say / Do with Your Massage Therapist
  • Ask your massage therapist to go see a movie / come to your house / etc. ...
  • Excessive noises. ...
  • Comment on our looks/attractiveness. ...
  • Poke your head out of the room to let us know you're ready. ...
  • Start undressing while we are still in the room. ...
  • Touch us.
3 Jul 2020

What is the 7 types of massage? ›

7 Massage Types: Choose the Best Massage for You
  • Swedish Massage. Swedish massage is the most common type of massage. ...
  • Deep Tissue Massage. Deep tissue massage gives attention to painful trouble spots on the body. ...
  • Hot Stone Massage. ...
  • Sports Massage. ...
  • Reflexology. ...
  • Shiatsu Massage. ...
  • Thai Massage.
23 Aug 2019

What should you eat after a massage? ›

Post-massage fare high in nutrients and minerals is ideal. Think more fresh fruits and vegetables, steamed vegetables (the more colors, the better), even lightly stir-fried vegetable medley with some brown rice, or a baked sweet potato is super. You could even do a little meat, like some grilled chicken on a salad.

Why are you hungry after a massage? ›

After a massage, you may feel hungry. This happens due to the increase of blood circulation, which maximizes body systems function including, our digestive system. And, by eating a large meal, you will end up feeling bloated, sluggish, or lethargic.

How often should you have massages? ›

A general recommendation is every 1-3 weeks, especially "if they have specific strain or tension or any area," says Amey.

How do massage therapists know where knots are? ›

Massage therapists are trained to feel where knots occur by looking for tension in the back, neck and shoulders. They find this tension and release it by applying deep compression with their thumb, fingers or elbow, and holding for 20-30 seconds.

How do you massage a tired person? ›

Ask your friend to put some massage oil on your back. Rub the entire area of your back with long strokes. This improves the blood circulation, supplying fresh blood and energy to the strained muscles. Repeat this process for around 20 minutes.

What do you wear for a full body massage? ›

We advise that you wear something comfy and stretchy on the legs, e.g. leggings or joggers, and avoid wearing belts, jeans, trousers/shorts without any stretch or lots of pockets (unless you require deep tissue work on the legs, then shorts or underwear will be necessary).

How do you manually relieve constipation from massage? ›

Press firmly into your belly and slide your hand in a circular motion up toward your ribs, across your belly, down to your left hip bone, and back across the bottom of your belly. Repeat 10 times. With your hand still in a fist, start at your left ribs and make firm circular motions.

How do you pronounce Tui Na massage? ›

Tui Na is pronounced 'tweena'. 'Ancient massage that will rock and roll away your pain' is derived from the Chinese words 'Tui' meaning to push and 'Na' meaning to grasp, two techniques fundamental to traditional Chinese medical massage and medicine.

How often should you get Chinese massage? ›

Q: How often do I need a massage to take advantage of its benefits? A: Massage can be considered as part of your long term well-being. To keep receiving the massage related benefits, it's recommended to have a massage session once a month or every six weeks.

How do you massage a person? ›

How To Give A Deep Stress Relief Back Massage - YouTube

What happens when you massage your belly? ›

Massaging your stomach can help to move stool along the inside of your colon. It may help relieve symptoms of tightness, pressure, cramping and bloating. Start on the right side of your stomach down by the bone of your pelvis. Rub in a circular motion lightly up to the right side till you reach your rib bones.

How do you stimulate a bowel movement quickly? ›

If you're experiencing constipation, the following quick treatments can help induce a bowel movement in as little as a few hours.
  1. Take a fiber supplement. ...
  2. Eat foods for constipation relief. ...
  3. Drink a glass of water. ...
  4. Take a laxative stimulant. ...
  5. Take an osmotic laxative. ...
  6. Try a lubricant laxative. ...
  7. Use a stool softener. ...
  8. Try an enema.

What part of the foot do you massage for constipation? ›

How to Help Relieve Constipation | Reflexology - YouTube

What is Chinese massage therapy? ›

Unlike Deep Tissue or Sports Massage, which focus on releasing tight muscular knots by targeting blood flow to the area, Chinese Massage techniques also aim to promote overall health by easing the flow of energy, or “qi”, around the body.

How does massage relieve pain? ›

Therapeutic massage may relieve pain by way of several mechanisms, including relaxing painful muscles, tendons, and joints; relieving stress and anxiety; and possibly helping to “close the pain gate” by stimulating competing nerve fibers and impeding pain messages to and from the brain.

What is Chinese remedial massage? ›

Remedial massage is one traditional Chinese method that addresses injury-related imbalances. What is remedial massage therapy? Remedial massage therapy is a technique that uses pressure to relieve pain and promote healing of damaged tissues.

When is the best time to get a massage? ›

  • The best time of day for a massage is in the afternoon, around four o'clock. ...
  • You shouldn't get a massage if you're sick, have a fever, blood clots, kidney or liver problems, inflammation, or cancer. ...
  • It's good to get a massage in the morning.

How long is too long for a massage? ›

If relaxation is your goal, then a 50 or 60 minute massage is generally appropriate. You can certainly do a longer session of 80 or 90 minutes if you like, but anything much longer than that may tend to feel a bit repetitive or may leave you groggy afterward.

What should you not do before a massage? ›

Ten Things Not To Do Before a Massage
  • Don't Sunburn. ...
  • Don't "Caffeinate" ...
  • Don't Eat a Large Meal. ...
  • Don't Run a Marathon. ...
  • Don't Apply Lotion or Oil. ...
  • Don't Apply Topical Medications, Patches or Tapes. ...
  • Don't Take Prescription Pain Medication.
21 Jul 2015

What are the 5 basic massage movements? ›

Swedish technique consists of five basic strokes: effleurage (stroking), petrissage (kneading), friction, tapotement (percussion) and vibration, though all of these strokes are not used on every part of the body.

How do you massage your breasts to firm them? ›

How to do it
  1. Place four fingers on the top and bottom of one breast.
  2. Apply gentle pressure while moving the fingers of both hands in smooth, circular motions.
  3. Position the fingers on each side of the same breast and continue to massage in a circular pattern.
  4. Repeat on the other breast.
9 Mar 2020

Videos

1. Tuina Massage of the neck supine
(AIM Online (Academy of Integrative Medicine))
2. Tuina Massage Techniques (59 Minutes)
(MassageNerd)
3. Tuina Massage TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICAL Treatment for Back & Shoulder Pain Relief
(Explore More)
4. Tuina - Therapeutic Massage
(UMNCSH)
5. Tuina Massage and it's Health Benefits
(Mystiq World)
6. Tuina Massage - Neck and Upper Back - Sitting Position
(AIM Online (Academy of Integrative Medicine))

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