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Chinese Massage: Benefits + Techniques

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Chinese massage is a century-old practice that started as a traditional sacred healing ritual. This well-documented healing practice is said to heal injuries, alleviate pain, reduce stress, and controversially prevent and cure diseases.

Through the years, many practitioners have adopted, developed, and customized traditional Chinese massage techniques to naturally ease the flow of energy or “Qi.”

There are two fundamental concepts in traditional Chinese healing—the Qi and yin and yang.

Qi or Ch’i is hard to explain, but lacking in better terms, it’s the energy present in all living things. Anything or everything that has life has qi. It is a universal vital energy that harmonizes all forms of energy—may it be a tangible form (yin) or an intangible concept (yang).

Yin and yang are opposing forces that make up the existence of a living thing. Any object material has the element of yin; likewise, anything that is immaterial has the component of yang. When the yin and yan of qi are in unison, positive effects on one’s life will occur.

Stress, anxiety, and unhealthy eating habits cause qi to become stagnant and weak, and vice versa. Stagnant energy manifests through emotions like depression, uncontrolled anger, mood swings, and abdominal pain—triggering long-term and chronic health problems—body pain, poor blood circulation, hypertension, and heart failure.

Chinese massage therapists balance the qi in the body by using a technique called “Tui na.” Meaning to pinch and pull specific areas in the body that is not in harmony. This method of aligning the body’s energy can promote overall health and wellbeing

woman lying on bed getting chinese massage

Tui na: Chinese massage technique

Tui na (Twee na) is a traditional medium of Chinese massage therapy that harmonizes the yin and yan by unblocking the flow of energy that can lead to diseases and emotional distress. It is often performed together with acupuncture and other herbal treatments.

Like acupuncture, tui na targets the same acupoints and meridians to remove the obstruction of the flow of qi. Practitioners use a circulating or oscillating motion accompanied by pressure techniques that can be gentle and meditative (yin) or active and energetic (yang). To go beyond touch therapy, they also incorporate herbal lotions and salves.

Eight vital tui na techniques are:

  • Palpitating or mo
  • Rejoining or jie
  • Opposing or duan
  • Lifting or ti
  • Pressing or an
  • Kneading or mo
  • Pushing or tui
  • Holding or na

Other methods include:

  • Rolling method -A method that relaxes the whole body.
  • Finger spring – Targets hard-to-reach tight spaces in between the bones.
  • Grasping – Squeezes the muscles that go against the muscle fibers.

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Chinese massage benefits

Relieves body pain

Chinese massage like tui na is essential in rehabilitating, relieving, and maintaining the health condition of muscles, joints, and tendons by alleviating any form of stagnation and stiffness in the body. It is also a cost-effective way to address pain rather than go through the contradicting side effects of prescription medication.

Most therapists will give a full body massage, but they will advise their patients to come back if specific areas in the body need more attention.

Alleviates symptoms of premenstrual syndrome

Each woman goes through different symptoms of PMS that may vary in intensity and severity that can affect their day to day living. Some symptoms include fatigue, body pains, tension, stress, mood swings, and poor concentration.

In traditional Chinese medicine, PMS is a combination of blood and qi. So, according to their belief, it is possible to treat the symptoms with acupuncture or massage therapy to support the flow of qi and blood circulation. But, ensure to consult your healthcare provider for further advice.

Improves sleep

Stress is the most common culprit of sleeping disorders. It can disrupt healthy sleeping habits and routines.

Tui na can reduce stress by decreasing the stress hormones to promote relaxation. It can also elevate and stabilize mood by increasing dopamine and serotonin in the brain.

Some studies show that tui na is more effective than sleeping pills to aid sleeping disorders because it is a holistic and non-invasive way to relax the mind and body.

Heal tissue injuries

Tui na can assist with pain management and boost blood circulation. 

Proper blood circulation is vital to healing tissue injuries since blood carries oxygen throughout the body. It helps by decreasing swelling and relieving any muscle tension to promote a speedy recovery.

Promotes respiratory health

Many external factors can influence respiratory problems—air pollution, allergens, smoking, secondhand smoke, and viruses. A the same time, genetics may also play a role in your respiratory health condition.

The lungs can benefit from any massage therapy like hand and stone massage. It can normalize your breathing patterns by loosening the muscles in the rib area—allowing the ribs to expand to let more oxygen enter the body.

Boost metabolism

Food is a form of energy that fuels the body to move. When you have a slow metabolism, it can bring about unregulated weight gain because the body burns calories slower. If your body can’t effectively use this energy, the body will store it in and around the vital organs called visceral fat.

Visceral fat produces toxic chemicals and hormones that lead to dangerous health risks. 

Massage therapy can clear toxins from the body by improving blood circulation that aid in weight loss.

Revitalizes energy

Day-to-day exhaustion can lower your energy. It can be in the form of fatigue and weariness. But be aware of persistent lack of energy because it may not be resolved with self-care alone. There might be underlying physical or psychological issues that require tending.

There are a lot of factors that cause a lack of energy—overexertion, pain, sleep deprivation, unhealthy diet, and inadequate exercise.

Massage therapy helps with the proper flow of energy or qi in the body by lowering stress in joints and muscle tissue, thus improving your energy level. It also accelerates digestion by promoting a healthy metabolism.

Tips and warnings

  • Find a certified licensed therapist. There are many places that offer therapeutic massages but there are also therapists that may not have full knowledge of what they are doing. It’s advisable to find a certified licensed practitioner to ensure your safety and security.
  • Be transparent. If you have preexisting and underlying issues, please be transparent with your therapist. This gives your therapist the opportunity to keep your safety in check which allows them to be confident in their practice without putting you in harm’s way. If you have bruises, varicose veins, burns, cuts and lesions, and broken bones, avoid getting a massage around these areas. Let your therapist know about any of these conditions before the start of a massage.
  • Possibility of prenatal massage complications. Although prenatal massage is popular, seek consultation with your OB-GYN because there are some possible complications that may arise. There may be a possibility of miscarriage, especially in the first trimester.
  • Avoid getting a massage when you are sick. If you have a fever, cold, or a contagious disease, avoid getting a massage altogether. Massage increases the circulation that may increase the severity of your fever and infection. Likewise, if you have a contagious condition you are putting your therapist at risk of getting it.

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