Tuina, literally translated as push-grasp, is an ancient system of massage that withstands the test of time. From 2300 B.C., The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine records tuina among the five major therapies of the time. Oracle bones dating back to 1700 b.c., show that tuina was used to treat children’s diseases and adult digestive complaints. By 600 B.C., tuina was included in the Imperial Medical College as a separate department. Tuina flourished throughout China until the early 1900s. Following the collapse of the dynastic system, the central government promoted an extreme implementation of Western ideology that excluded all traditional healing modalities, including tuina. This healing art, however, continued to be practiced discretely in China and openly in other Asian countries influenced by traditional Chinese culture. After the Communist revolution in 1949, tuina was restored to mainstream China along with traditional medical arts and is included in the current system of Traditional Medicine Colleges.
Tuina is a form of massage that involves pressing, tapping and kneading with the palms of the hands, fingertips, knuckles or implements. These actions remove blockages along the meridians of the body and stimulate the healthy flow of chi (vital energy) and blood. The patient’s innate self-healing mechanism is thus energized. Tuina encompasses a broad range of techniques ranging from light stroking to deep-tissue work. Hand and arm techniques are used to massage the soft tissue of the body, stimulate the acupressure points and mobilize various joints. Other manual techniques include gliding, kneading, percussion, friction, pulling, rotation, rocking, vibration and shaking.
Tuina is primarily used for therapeutic purposes rather than exclusively for relaxation. Practitioners of tuina bodywork often utilize herbal liniments to aid in the healing process. Back pain, stress and detoxification are among the many conditions for which tuina is recommended. Tuina also serves as an effective complement to other modalities of Chinese medicine such as acupuncture and herbs.