Tui Na literally translated means to ‘push and grasp’. It is a sophisticated form of medical massage which works on the same principles as acupuncture. In fact acupuncture was developed from Tui Na where it was found that pressing or holding particular points on the body had a therapeutic effect. Tui Na is often used to treat muscle and joint injuries but it is also known for its benefits in fighting off disease and internal disorders. Some people enjoy regular Tui Na treatments for stress relief and associated problems such as headache and migraine.
Treatments are generally carried out with the patient covered with a cloth or through clothing. Tui Na treatments often include the use of other therapies such as gua sha, cupping and moxibustion.
Gua Sha is another ancient technique used widely throughout Eastern Asia. ‘Gua’ literally means to ‘scrape. A tool is used to apply a smooth pressure to the surface of the skin. This produces a ‘sha’ or temporary rash which has an anti-inflammatory effect on the area. It is used frequently on the neck, shoulders and back to relieve pain and tension but also has an effect on internal conditions.
Cupping is a technique which has received some recent attention with some well known celebrities sporting some dark circular marks on their shoulders and back!
Cups are rounded and are made of glass. A vacuum is created inside the cup and quickly placed onto the skin where treatment is needed. The cup is left in place for anything up to 20 minutes.
If large areas of the body need treating, a technique known as ‘sliding cups’ is used. A thin layer of massage oil is spread over the skin, the cups are then placed onto the body in the usual way and slid along the muscles being treated. This sliding method helps the blood and ‘qi’ to flow more easily in areas of stagnation.
Cupping is not painful, however it can leave reddish patches on the skin, like circular bruises. Although these marks resemble bruises, the muscles have not been traumatised in any way. The redness on the skin indicates that there has been movement in the circulation of blood under and around the cups. Not all cupping will result in redness as this depends on the complaint being treated.
Moxibustion is an essential part of Chinese medicine which uses moxa, a soft woolly substance prepared from mugwort leaves (Artemisia vulgaris). In moxibustion the moxa is placed either directly on the skin or held just above it, over specific acupuncture points or meridians. The herb is lit and as it smoulders slowly, a therapeutic heat permeates the skin and affects the flow of “qi” (energy) and blood in the area being treated.
Direct moxibustion is more commonly used for specific areas needing treatment. The moxa is shaped into cones and placed directly on to the body before lighting. The lit moxa cone is removed as soon as the patient feels any sensation of heat.