Tui Na is a type of Oriental bodywork which has been used in China for more than 2,000 years. Diagnosis and treatment are based on the same principles as acupuncture - the traditional Chinese medical theory of the flow of Qi through the meridians. Specific techniques are used to work on the meridians and on specific points, to harmonise the balance of Qi - allowing the body to heal itself naturally.
Tui Na literally means "pushing" and "grasping" - two of the techniques used in treatment. Tui Na methods include the use of hand techniques to massage the soft tissue (muscles and tendons) of the body, acupressure techniques which directly affect the flow of Qi , and manipulation techniques to realign the muscles and ligaments. As such, the experience of Tui Na could be described as a cross between physiotherapy, shiatsu and acupressure. Practitioners develop a special awareness of the Qi, which they work with directly on the patient's body, and usually through clothes. Treatment can be either relaxing or stimulating depending on the condition and is an excellent complement to an acupuncture treatment: it offers a unique system of hands-on treatment, which has profound effects. Alongside acupuncture and herbal medicine, Tui Na completes the system of Chinese medicine, which has worked so beautifully for thousands of years
Courses in the UK
Tui Na is increasingly taught as a separate but equal field of study in Chinese medicine colleges and is the most recent branch of Chinese medicine to gain popularity in the UK. In the Tui Na profession, people are working hard to establish a professional body, using the experience and professional standards which are embodied in the other two disciplines of Oriental medicine. As soon as this body becomes formally constituted, it too will work towards a full system of accreditation. We are aiming for a situation in the UK where Tui Na practitioners receive the same demanding training as acupuncturists and herbalists and enjoy the same level of professional respect.
What is a typical treatment like?
In a typical session, the client, wearing loose clothing and no shoes, normally lies down. The practitioner explores the problem and uses massage techniques on acupressure points, energy meridians, muscles and joints. Sessions can last anything from 30 minutes to an hour and a half and, depending on the specific problems, your practitioner may recommend that you return for treatment as frequently as once a week. You will usually feel relaxed but energised by the treatment.
Tui Na is well suited for the treatment of muscle and joint pains as well as deeper internal problems such as digestive difficulties, asthma and breathing problems, and female problems to name but a few. Treatment can be quite deep and occasionally uncomfortable, although the discomfort is often described as "a nice pain"!
By Susanna Dowie MA, LicAc, MBAcC, HonMRCHM, College Principal
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