推拿 Tui Na

Tui na 推拿 (literally pushing and pulling) is the name given to manual therapeutic techniques practised in hospitals and martial art schools in China. It is considered separate from massage for pleasure (anmo 按摩: to press and rub) as it follows medical principles, to identify a problem through palpation, observation, pain or restricted movement and to use the appropriate techniques to correct it, rather than following a set routine for pleasure.

Tui na incorporates techniques of:
  • Massage and soft tissue manipulation
  • Stimulation of acupoints without needles
  • Joint mobilisation and stretching
  • Varying levels of pressure for different purposes and constitutions
  • Head and face routines
  • Hand and foot reflexology protocols
  • Abdominal massage
  • Specialised techniques for work with children
It has arisen out of China's long tradition of martial arts and hands on healing, primarily for musculoskeletal conditions and to assist recovery from training injuries but through its action on the meridian system is also believed to be able to help alleviate other conditions too.

It may seem tempting to compare it to acupressure but it is considerably more dynamic and closer to western schools of massage or manual therapy but with techniques described in terms of Chinese medicine, meridians and points.

It can be performed while fully clothed with oils usually reserved for specific techniques at the end of treatment to induce a feeling of heat or coolness, or in acute stages of injury when pressure is inappropriate.

Both acupuncture and tui na can be used in any treatment but some techniques are better suited to certain issues, points or people than others. Since they come from the same cultural and historical background tui na is capable of working together with acupuncture in a way that few other methods are designed to do.