The story appears on

Page B1 , B2

November 1, 2011

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Feature » Health and Environment

More than skin deep

TRADITIONAL Chinese medical massage can treat some deep-down ailments, boost immunity and help maintain healthy energy balance. Zhang Qian rubs it in.

Tuina, or traditional Chinese medical massage, involves rubbing and pressing acupuncture points and energy channels to relieve discomfort and treat various conditions and organ problems.

Tuina, literally push-pull, embodies the Chinese philosophy of yin-yang and the five elements. It uses pressure to bring the body's energy into balance and has become increasingly popular among both Chinese and expat practitioners.

Traditional Chinese medicine experts warn against unprofessional tuina for medical purposes, noting that proper tuina is performed with a TCM prescription and involves certain acupuncture/acupressure points. Tuina therapy involves a course of treatment, as does acupuncture, but many patients feel immediate relief from pain or discomfort.

Easy DIY can help maintain health and balance.

Tuina is used for a wide range of conditions, including muscle and joint problems and internal organ problems. It does not work in cases of cancer, infectious disease, broken bones, ulcers and other problems.

Also called anmo in ancient times, it involves rubbing, pressing and pounding in different ways in different spots. It is believed to create changes in energy flow, including reinforcing energy, dispelling energy and unblocking stagnant energy, thus helping to promote healthy energy, improve immunity and fight disease.

Easy rubbing for pain relief is probably the origin of tuina in ancient times, according to Dr Li Zhengyu, professor in the Acupuncture and Tuina Department of the Shanghai University of TCM. With the development of traditional Chinese medicine theories, tuina matured and has become "astonishingly" effective, says Dr Li.

The earliest indication of tuina is believed to be a pictograph on bones from the Shang Dynasty (16th-11th century BC) of a man in bed, with his hand on an enlarged belly.

Experts believe it depicts a man with digestive problems who is massaging his belly to relieve discomfort, says Dr Li.

Though tuina is more widely used for muscle and bone aches, it has been used for internal problems since ancient times, according to Dr Gong Li, deputy director of the tuina department of Yueyang Hospital attached to the Shanghai University of TCM.

"The TCM theory of energy channels and related organs is the theoretical basis of tuina that enables it to do more than relieve sore muscles, a major difference between tuina and other massage styles.

Luoyang in central China's Henan Province is the birthplace of tuina, according to the fundamental TCM texts.

According to "Huangdi Neijing" ("Medical Classic of the Yellow Emperor"), in flat, fertile central China people tend to eat relatively more and do somewhat less physical work. This prosperity and reduced physical exercise led to internal energy stagnation - much like the situation today.

As with TCM herbal prescriptions, professional tuina pracitioners need a precise diagnosis of a patient's energy situation from a TCM doctor. Then the specific acupuncture points can be treated with massage.

"Massaging the acupuncture points is no less effective than herbal decoctions," says Dr Gong. "Rubbing various acupuncture points can help adjust the internal energy balance just as different herbs work together for a balanced herbal decoction."

Dr Gong cautions against receiving tuina for medical purposes in nonmedical establishments, such as spas or massage centers. Some things should be avoided, such as too much joint twisting, too much shoulder rubbing in case of pregnancy (pressing some acupuncture points can lead to uterine contractions and possible miscarriage); and rubbing the belly during menstruation.

However, tuina for general health maintenance is recommended, as long as no serious condition is involved.

"As winter approaches, many people want to eat energy-reinforcing foods and herbs to maintain good health, but actually, easy DIY tuina massage may work better," says Dr Li, noting that "a fluent energy circulation achieved with tuina helps the body better absorb reinforcing elements."

Zu san li, one of the most frequently used acupuncture points in the legs, is said to be effective in improving general immunity. Dr Li says that he had experimented on its function in rats with cancer and found that the cancer developed much more slowly in rats that received rubbing every day. They also maintained a good appetite. Findings were reported in 1990 in TCM Magazine.

In addition, rubbing the side upper torso, rubbing the lower back. "combing" the scalp with fingertips and lightly pounding the outside of both legs are all recommended practices for maintaining health.

Some easy practices
Practices: Press hard with thumb or forefinger, release a bit and rub. Repeat.
Nei guan

Location: Central line of the anterior forearm, 2cm above the wrist crease.
Benefits: Relieves chest pressure and discomfort.
He gu

Location: Between the first and second metacarpal (hand) bones.
Benefits: Helps relieve pain anywhere in the body. For toothache, rub he gu on opposite side for ache in upper jaw; rub the he gu on the same side for pain in lower jaw.
Feng chi

Location: In a depression between at the sides of the neck.
Benefits: Increases blood flow to the brain and strengthens the eye nerves, improving eyesight. (Rub with eyes closed)

San yin jiao

Location: four women's finer-widths above the tip of medial malleous (shin bone on inside of the ankle).
Benefits: Helps reduce rate of hormone decrease in menopause and relieve related symptoms. Helps with painful or irregular menstruation.
Location: the upper part of the sides of the torso
Practice: Rub with palm repeatedly
Benefits: Helps unblock energy stagnation and improve energy circulation; useful in treating high blood pressure and low mood.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend