Chinese tui na (or tuina) massage is the most common form of acupressure practiced in China. It is a vigorous form of body massage in which finger and thumb pressure is used to stimulate acupoints on the skin.
Tui na is believed to be the oldest system of body work still practiced today, dating back to massage techniques described 3,700 years ago, at the time of the Shang Dynasty. The term tui na was not introduced until much later, however, around the fourteenth century during the Ming dynasty.
What is tui na?
The phrase tui na translates as to push, lift and grasp or squeeze, and describes the series of pressing, tapping and kneading movements used during the massage. These are designed to unblock and stimulate the flow of Qi energy along body meridians, and to eliminate cold and stop pain.
During a tui na massage, you wear loose clothing and may be asked to sit in a chair, lie on a massage table or on a padded floor mat. The practitioner will concentrate on specific acupressure points and surrounding muscles and joints, depending on your particular health issues.
The pressure applied varies from light stroking to deep tissue manipulation, and may brush, wipe, roll, press, rub or knead your muscles.
The practitioner may use talcum powder or massage oils to avoid friction. Some practitioners combine tui na with other Traditional Chinese Medicine techniques, such as acupuncture, moxibustion herbal compresses or cupping.
Although tui na massage can be vigorous, and you may feel a little sore afterwards, it is traditionally considered as especially suitable for use on infants and the elderly or frail.
A typical tui na treatment session lasts 30 to 60 minutes. Afterwards, you may feel relaxed and sleepy, light-headed, or even energized, and will usually notice a diuretic effect as the massage helps flush excess fluid from the body.
Tui na for high blood pressure
At least seven clinical trials, involving 479 people with essential hypertension have investigated the effects of tui na massage on blood pressure.
Some compared the effects of tui na against prescribed antihypertensive medication, while others investigated the effects of combined treatment.
When used alone, blood pressure readings in those receiving tui na alone were not significantly different to those receiving medication suggesting that tui na massage was equally effective as antihypertensive drugs.
When tui na was combined with antihypertensive treatment, however, those receiving both tui na and medication were 14% more likely to have a significant improvement in blood pressure readings.
These studies also confirmed that tui na is effective and safe, and can improve associated symptoms of headache, dizziness and fatigue.