Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is Tui Na?

It is Chinese Medical massage and joint manipulation using the basic theory of traditional Chinese medicine as a guide using acupressure, a broad range of hand techniques and stretches.

2. How do you pronounce it? What does it mean literally?

Tui Na (tooee-nah).

Tui Na Anmo, Anmo literally means masso-therapy. Tui means “pushing” or “to push”, Na means “holding”, An means “pressing”, and Mo means “stroking” or “circular kneading”.

3. What is the (brief) history of Tui Na?

Records show as early as 2700 B.C. simple massage was used for pain and some diseases. In the 26th Century B.C., YU FU, a Yellow Emperor’s minister summarised Eight Methods of Massage.

It was recorded in the Shang Dynasty that massage techniques of that time had reached quite a high level. The earliest surviving medical treatment in China HUANGDI NEIJING (Yellow Emperor’s Internal Classic) compiled 500 – 300 B.C. recorded the indications of Tui Na including:

  • Bi-pains Syndrome
  • debilities
  • facial paralysis
  • stomachache etc

in which treatments of Tui Na were described. As far as known the first book specialising in Tui Na, The HUANGDI QIBONMO SHIJUAN (The Ten Volumes of Huangdi Qibo on massage) was also compiled in this period. There is only a record of its existence, the book was lost.

In the WEI and JIN Dynasties, (220 – 420 A.D.), departments of Tui Na were set up as official specialties in the government health care system. In the Sui Dynasty (581 – 618 A.D.) the Title of Doctor of Tui Na was formed.

Tui Na practitioners were graded into Doctors, technicians and manipulators. The Doctors of Tui Na were assisted by the two grades taught the students how to do self-massage and exercises to relieve the illness, treat injuries and reduce fractures.

In 1956 the Academy of Traditional Chinese Massage (including Tuinology) was formed under the direction of the Minister of Public Health.

4. What types of conditions can it treat?

It is sometimes called Acupuncture without needles, and accordingly can address a wide variety of disorders, diseases, and help with emotional issues. Traumatology, diseases, Gynaecology, and a wide range of children’s disorders. For example: Frozen Shoulder, Disc Bulges, Cervical Spondylosis, Menstrual and Menopausal Problems, Morning Sickness, Migraine, Constipation, Coughs and Colds to Measles etc!

5. What have you found it particularly useful for in your practice?

Most complaints including: chronic back and neck pain, migraine, menstruation problems and stress related disorders.

6. How is it done (I believe it’s quite vigorous)?

It is done using gentle to heavy force applied in various ways using palms, thumbs, fingers, and elbows. Added to this are various stretches. It can be very vigorous and quite hard on the therapist and patient, depending on the condition.

7. Some practitioners combine it with acupuncture. What is the benefit of this?

Tui Na by itself is quite an extensive therapy. However there are disorders which can be addressed better by acupuncture and then by joining both therapies together the effects are increased, providing a better and sometimes quicker outcome to the patient.

8. Is Tui Na painful?

Tui Na can be painful because we work on pressure and Ashi points (tender points that are not zacupoints). Some techniques need to be strong and deep. Pain tends to be relative to the patients’ tolerance and the type of the illness, which affects people differently.

9. How does it differ from regular massage?

It follows the T.C.M. concept, so it is about clearing blockages within the energy meridians and so the hand techniques used are very different to other therapies however have some similarities as well. We rarely use oils, the patient is usually clothed, and it is designed to specifically address disorders that other massage therapies may not eg: Rubella, Diabetes.

10. So it’s not the sort of massage you’d go and have on a Saturday afternoon to relax you after a hard week at work?

Wrong! It is not a soft massage, however the therapist can do a massage which invigorates and relaxes in the same way that other massage therapies helps prevent dis-ease. Many of my clients use it to stay in good health. We call it “House massage” – Keeping the House in Order.

11. How do you feel after Tui Na? (… and any residual effects?)

That depends on the patient’s condition. Most feel more balanced, lighter and the effect that something is shifting inside. Sometimes you can feel worse the next day as toxins move due to the increased blood and Qi flow. There is a greater nervous system response and many people have emotional releases. These are all beneficial as they open the way for greater balance within the individual.

12. Is there anyone who shouldn’t have Tui Na?

Those with an unknown diagnosis, fractures, malignant tumours, open injuries, scalds, burns, and notifiable infectious diseases. Caution with women during menstruation, pregnancy and people who are feeble.

13. How does Tui Na work (mention a bit of basic TCM theory in appropriate)?

By promoting the flow of Qi (vital energy) and Blood by removing obstructions in the meridian pathways. This is achieved by separating adhesions, relieving pain or spasms, relaxing muscles and tendons, unblocking channels, invigorating blood circulation, readjusting the flow of Qi, regulating the function of the viscera and the nervous system.

14. With Qi Gong massage there’s a lot of emphasis on the practitioner’s energy and body position. Is there anything special a Tui Na practitioner needs to do or anything unusual about the treatment?

The same theory is at work, so keeping one’s energy strong is vital or eventually the practitioner will suffer. Many practitioners study Qi Gong or forms of martial arts to maintain this. Correct posture and breathe is important as is the state of mind and spirit.

15. When could someone see a Tuina practitioner? (Instead of a doctor?? Physio? Chiro?)

Originally people visited a Tuina practitioner for most complaints, as they were the doctor, physio and chiro. However today people can come for back pain, migraine, muscular disorders, insomnia etc. Or after seeing a medical practitioner and don’t have the contraindications. If the Tuinologist feels something is not within their skill range they will request they seek medical attention.

16. What type of practitioners practice Tuina? (some/most acupuncturists??)

Some acupuncturists do but a lot of body workers such as sports masseurs etc. I am currently training a medical student who wishes to learn and add a traditional therapy to her overall qualifications and treating patients holistically.

17. Any idea how many Tuina practitioners in Australia?

I honestly have no idea. There are many practitioners who have learnt some Tuina techniques and mix it with there own modality. As to how many do only Tuina, I have no idea.

18. How do you choose a good practitioner?

Check qualifications of anyone advertising Tuina treatments or by referral. All my patients are by referral as I do not advertise or appear in the Yellow Pages. Otherwise it is like choosing any modality or doctor.

19. How do you find a practitioner?

I will contact ATMS and Australian Acupuncture Association, but are there other reputable Tuina colleges or associations whose contact details I can include in the story?) Contact each states TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicines) associations. Apart from that check some natural therapy colleges. An example is in South Australia there is SAHEC (South Australian Health and Education Center).

20. What is the price range of Tuina massage? (and how long is a standard treatment?)

Depending on each practice, the average for our state is $50 for a session that is 40-60 minutes. $30 for a session, of 20-30 minutes.

21. Why is Tuina so fabulous? (a … chance for you to sing its praises!)

Because it follows the TCM concept of holistic therapy it has flexibility in treating patients with the conditions they present not merely by the name of the disorder. It has over 2000 years of experience behind it and not many therapies last that long if they do not work.

It really works I have a very busy practice simply because I utilise this therapy which has excellent results for my patients. The success rate attests to this.

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