Tui na, is a form of Chinese manipulative therapy often used in
conjunction with acupuncture, moxibustion, fire cupping, Chinese
herbalism, tai chi, and qigong.
Tui na is a hands-on body treatment that uses Chinese taoist and martial
art principles to bring the body to balance. The principles being
balanced are the eight principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (qv
because TCM was codified by the PRC out of many ancient traditions.) The
practitioner may brush, knead, roll/press and rub the areas between each
of the joints (known as the eight gates) to open the body's defensive (wei)
chi and get the energy moving in both the meridians and the muscles. The
practitioner can then use range of motion, traction, massage, with the
stimulation of acupressure points and to treat both acute and chronic
musculoskeletal conditions, as well as many non-musculoskeletal
conditions. Tui na is an integral part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
and is taught in TCM schools as part of formal training in Oriental
medicine. Many East Asian martial arts schools also teach tui na to
their advanced students for the treatment and management of injury and
pain due to training. As with many other traditional Chinese medical
practices, there are several different schools with greater or lesser
differences in their approach to the discipline. It is related also to
Chinese massage or anma.
In ancient China, medical therapy was often classified into "external"
and "internal" treatments. Tui na was one of the external methods,
especially suitable for use on the elderly population and on infants.
Today it is subdivided into specialized treatment for infants, adults,
orthopedics, traumatology, cosmetology, rehabilitation, sports medicine,
etc. Tui na has been used extensively in China for over 2,000 years.
Tui na has fewer side effects than modern drug-based and chemical-based
treatments. It has been used to treat or complement the treatment of
many conditions; musculo-skeletal disorders and chronic stress-related
disorders of the digestive, respiratory, and reproductive systems.
Massage techniques are ubiquitous in almost all early human cultures.
Similar techniques date at least as early as the Shang Dynasty, around
1700 BC. Ancient inscriptions on oracle bones show that massage was used
to treat infants and adult digestive conditions. In his book Jin Gui Yao
Lue, Zhang Zhongjing, a famous physician in the Han Dynasty (206 BC),
wrote, "As soon as the heavy sensation of the limbs is felt, "Daoyin", "Tui
na", "Zhenjiu" and "Gaomo", all of which are therapeutic methods, are
carried out in order to prevent... the disease from gaining a start."
Around AD 700, Tui na had developed into a separate study in the
Imperial Medical College.
As the art of massage continued to develop and gain structure, it merged
(around 1600 AD) with another technique called tui na, which was the
specialty of bone-setting using deep manipulation. It was also around
this time that the different systems of tui na became popular, each with
its own sets of rules and methods.
It is not unusual to see practitioners working on street corners and
parks in modern China. Tui na is an occupation that is particularly
suitable to those with physical disabilities and in China, many blind
persons receive training in the art of tui na, where their heightened
sense of touch is a great benefit. Naprapathy is also called tuina