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We’ve probably seen how a Tuina masseur will knead, press or rub on the affected areas of a person’s body using just their palms and fingertips. How is that different from a normal massage? 

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective, making sure that the yin and yang are in harmony is crucial to one’s well being. When the Yin and Yang are not harmonized or in balance, the body will not be at its best condition. For example, an excess of Yang could result in fever while and excess of Yin could mean that there is too much dampness in the body which could result in feeling nauseous and vomiting. 

During a Tuina massage, the practitioner focuses on regulating the flow of qi (energy) in the body. They do so by identifying the areas of your body and using certain massage techniques to remove any blockages in your body that is stopping the flow of qi. When the flow of qi (energy) is restored in the body, this promotes healing. 

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And that’s the difference between a normal message and a TCM massage! TCM massage is founded on TCM principles while a normal massage is not. A normal massage generally targets specific areas of the body which is feeling sore whereas Tuina massage locates and massage parts of the body to bring about healing to the whole body, treating both the external and the internal.

These are some of the basic techniques that are commonly used in a tuina massage: 

  • Lifting (ti)
  • Pressing (an)
  • Rejoining (jie)
  • Pushing (tui)
  • Kneading (mo)
  • Holding (na)
  • Opposing (duan)
  • Palpating (mo)
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The techniques used by your TCM masseur can be categorized under either a Yin or Yang approach as well. The Yin techniques are more gentle and passive, while the Yang techniques will be more active and dynamic which tends to create a more intense sensation. 

Depending on your condition and your needs, your practitioner will recommend suitable techniques to help realign your body and regulate the flow of qi (energy) in your body. Unlike normal massages, tuina massage can not only be used to maintain the body in good health physically, but it can also treat pain and illness. 

Tuina massage is commonly used to treat the following condition:

  • Neck and back pain
  • Digestive issues
  • Stress
  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • Fatigue and insomnia
  • Headaches 
  • Arthritis and osteoporosis
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Though tuina massage is generally safe, it is not a gentle or relaxing massage like the standard massage services offer. For people who have fractures, inflammation or any open wounds, tuina massages is not recommended. People with a history of chronic back pain are advised to opt out of tuina massage as well. 

Always make sure that you go to a reputable TCM practitioner and consult your doctor if it is advisable for you to go for tuina massages!