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Introducing Tuina


Tui Na is one of the techniques used in Chinese medicine together with acupuncutre, Chinese herbalism, Chinese dietetics and Qi gong. Pleasant, energic, continuous and deep: the four adjectives that identify the tuina traditional Chinese massage, the basis of the many manoeuvres performed by the pratictioner during a treatment, during about 40-50 minutes. In fact Tuina (literally "push-grasp"), also called An Mo, consists not only in finger-pressing on specific points, but also in insisting along lines or specific body areas, with massages or slow joints movements, or using different complementary techniques.

As a massage aimed at the energetic rebalancing of the person, the practice is always subject to the examination of the client energetic situation and constitution; the good medical (in the sense of chinese energetic medicine) preparation of the tuina practitioner is fundamental for the functional rebalancing ot the cured person. This is maybe the reason of the smaller diffusion of this technique, compared to others requiring less theoretical knowledge to be used. But it is also true that Tui na, if practiced to treat minor problems or as a good relaxing massage, does not need a deep theoretical knowledge to be used. Actually, the widespread knowledge of this massage (in China) is owed, together with its ancient history, to the use, started by the humblest part of the population, of this technique. Not many practices could survive for such a long time: this proves its effectiveness and simplicity of execution.

How and why it works

The traditional chinese massage Tuina is mainly aimed at stimulating the functional rebalancing of the organism, strenghten the organism defenses, spur the Qi and Xue circulation (for a full definition of Qi, that we can here simply intend as "energy", see www.giuliaboschi.com; we could translate Xue as "blood", but there is a great difference from what this word means in Chinese medicine and what the same word indicates in Western medicine). Tuina is useful to regularize the energy within the meridiansor energetic channels, to improve the joints functionality, to relax the muscles. The theoretical frameset ot Tui na is theat of Chinese medicine; therefore, an energetic view of the body and it physiology. Within this frameset we can act to keep or re-establish wellness. To do this, we can either stimulate body areas, lines or points (the acupuncture points) indicated to regularize the Qi and Xue circulation, or expel those that in Chinese medicine are called Pathogenous Factors.

Apart from few exceptional cases (see contra-indications, below), it is good for everybody; Tuina is very useful in case of problems of the muscle-skeletal apparatus, stress and connected diseases; serves as an auxiliary method to other therapies like acupuncture, to solve even complex clinic situations regarding either the walking apparatus or the internal organs.

Tuina helps to:

Improve the joints functionality and relax the muscles.
Remove blocks, eliminate stases.
Regulate the Qi circulation along the Energetic Channels (eases the Qi circulation and production).
Improves the Blood circulation.
Expels the Pathogenous Factors.
Eases the good funcioning of Organs and Viscera.

Tuina Contra-indications

The contra-indications of Tui Na must be considered by the operator who has to act according to the professional deontology suggested by his study certificate. Usually an operator does not intervene in case of:

pristine or metastatic skin neoplasia and, in general, neoplasia of the areas that receive the manipulation;

severe heart and liver pathologies;

very aged patients;

bone fractures, spinal dislocations;

during or immediately before the beginning of the menstrua is not indicated on the loins area;

during pregnancy, especially after the third month (actually pregnancy is not a strict contra-indication for the massage, but it has to be practiced with great care and attention; for example, many Points must not be used as they are abortifacient).


Tuina has a field of application also in pediatrics; the young "patients" show to appreciate it very much, and very good results can be achieved with them using this technique.

The Tui na techniques

Tui offers the practitioner an incredibly wide range of instruments for its practice. First of alla the "manoeuvres" (in Chinese, FA). With the word manoeuvres (or techniques) we mean different ways of using hands to fit them to the various body areas and to better operate on the subject, as some techniques act on peculiar points, other along lines some other on specific body areas and so on. During a basis Tuina course we study about 30-40 manoeuvres, but many more exist. In a treatment we usually use about 8-10 different manoeuvres, (an indicative number), chosen on the basis of the energetic evaluation done, so that each treatment is completely personalized. Each manoeuvre has in fact its specific effect and indications (in a chinese energetic meaning) and also different ways of being executed. (To deepen the knowledge of the manoeuvres and their action or to see the videos click here).

The second set of manoeuvres are the tuina mobilizations (Yao, in Chinese); they consist in moving the patient joints, mostly with circular movements. There are many jao, and for each joint we can use different mobilisations.

Very important is also the set of auxiliary techniques that help the operator job. In particular Moxa (Artemisia vulgaris wool rolled as a cigar, or not) that, for its property of causing a very strong heating is used to warm specific points or areas. The cupping-glasses, usually in glass or bamboo (recently also in plastic) applied over points or areas using a technique that creates a void within the cup with a "suching" effetct on the skin. The hammer, either the one called "plumm flower" or the most recent realized in gum, is used to beat rhythmically points, areas or lines; The first kind of hammer operates a strong skin stimulation thanks to the needles placed on the head of the hammer itself; the second kind of hammer owes its efficacy to the peculiar technique: a ritmic and elastic percussion.

In China in the hospital practice infra-red rays lamps are very often used for their warming effect and also very used are chinese herbs medicated band-aids. This kind of band-aid has almost completely replaced the old technique of the hot compresses, consisting into applying over the ill area gauzes imbued with hot infusions of particular herbs.

Another auxiliary technique (used mainly in China) is Gua Sha. It consists into using a particular instrument, a kind of bone or plastic spatula,to brush again and again, always in the some direction, a body area.

Qi gong for tuina operators

Qigong (literally, work on the Qi) is a practice that supports the operator's work helping to maintain her/his health; it is also a practice to suggest to the clients to improve their wellness.