Tui na (pronounced ‘twee-nah’) or Chinese massage therapy is one of the four branches of Traditional Chinese Medicine (the others being acupuncture, herbal medicine, and medical qi gong).
Tui na uses the same methods and principles of diagnosis as acupuncture. Rather than employing needles to stimulate acu-points and zones of the body though, the practitioner uses pressure of their fingers and hands (great for people who are needle-phobic!). Tui na massage can be used on its own or alongside acupuncture since the two therapies are complementary.
As a style of massage, tui na is very versatile. It can induce relaxation and relieve stress, but it is most often used clinically to treat a wide range of musculo-skeletal ailments (back pain etc) as well as ‘internal disorders’ (digestive complaints, menstrual irregularites, fertility issues, etc).
The manipulations and techniques used by the tui na practitioner vary from strong to mild, from deep pressure to the level of subtle energy, according to the condition being treated and patient’s own energy or qi.
It is advisable to wear loose comfortable clothing for tui na, as the massage itself is performed through clothing and/or or a light cloth covering the body. Part of the clothing may need to be removed, however, if the practitioner uses a therapeutic massage medium (oil or ointment), cupping (application of glass suction cups to the skin), moxibustion (warming of acu-points with a smouldering herb), or gua sha (gentle scraping of the skin with a smooth-edged tool).