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Traditional Chinese Medicine and Massage

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Massage

Since the beginning of human time, massage has been around. Massage is one of the oldest forms of healing, dating about 4,000 years old. Therefore, many, if not all of the traditional healing practices include some form of massage therapy. Traditional Chinese Medicine incorporates massage into their system of healing. Traditional Chinese medicine uses massage to help balance the qi(or energy in the body), balance yin and yang, and what is know as the five elements of all living things. There are various types of massages that are incorporated into Chinese medicine. Some examples found on are Amno, Tuina, Infant Tuina, Dian Xue, and Wai Qi Liao Fa. 


The Basics of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine is one of the oldest healing system known. It is aged at about 2,000 years old. Traditional Chinese Medicine is based off balancing the energy in the body, mind and the spirit. 

  •  Qi(Chi): Qi is defined as "the circulating life force whose existence and properties are the basis of much Chinese philosophy and medicine." When qi becomes stagnant, or stuck, in the body, disease and illness can occur. Traditional Chinese medicine aims to keep the qi moving in the body to keep the body healthy and functioning well. When qi is balanced in a person, the body, mind and spirit is healthy and well. 
  • Yin and Yang: Yin and Yang are the feminine and masculine energies inside every being and in all of nature. Yin and yang are opposing energies.  Yin is feminine energy. Yin is the energy of the earth, while yang is the masculine energy. Yang is the energy of the sky. Illness and dis-ease occur when one of these energy forces is stronger and the other is weaker. Each organ and organ system can be either deficient of over-abundant in either yang or yin. One of the focuses of Traditional Chinese Medicine is to keep these two energies in balance.
  • The Five Element Theory: The five elements include: water, wood, fire, earth and metal. Each element is associate with an energy. Water is flowing, wood is rising, fire is expanding, earth is grounding, metal is completing. Everything in nature is associated with an element. For example, when the water element is out of balance is it associated with the emotion fear. If a person is feeling anxious or fearful, an acupuncturist, or a TCM bodyworker, would look to see what was going on with the kidneys or bladder. The kidneys and the bladder are water element organs. Therefore, each element has an associated emotion, both balanced and unbalanced, an organ system, and a meridian. These principles apply to other natural phenomenons, but let us just stick with the human body for this discussion.  Traditional Chinese Medicine aims to keep the energy moving and balanced through the five elements to keep the body in balance.  
  • The Meridians: Meridians are energy channels in the body. The meridians hold the space for the qi to pass through and move through. Each meridian is associated with an organ, is either yin or yang, and is associated with an element from the five element theory. Traditional Chinese Medicine uses the meridian system to balance qi, yin and yang energy and the five elements. The way acupuncture works is the acupuncturist will put small little needles in the acupressure points. These are points in the meridian system. When the small needle is removed the qi flows freely through that spot. TCM bodywork aims to do the same thing, just by using the hands instead of small needles. 


Traditional Chinese Medicine and Massage

It has been scientifically proven that there are many health benefits from getting regular massages. Some include, stress relief, pain relief, boosted immunity, and many more. Traditional Chinese Medicine uses massage to helps to balance the energy in the body. 


The way it works is through applying pressure to the meridians to help move the qi throughout the body. When the qi is stagnant the imbalance occurs. Furthermore, where there is an imbalance there is also possibility for a disease. This is a similar approach to acupuncture. However, acupuncture uses tiny needs that are pressed in the meridians to balance the movement of qi in the body to remove energy blockages in the body that cause disease. 


Amno massage was the first form of body work in Traditonal Chinese Medicine. Directly translated into english Amno means "pressing and rubbing." Amno massage is used for full body treatments, and to generally relax and balance the body. The most common form of Traditional Chinese Medicine bodywork is Tui Na. Tui Na translated to english is "pushing and grasping." Tui Na is based off of Amno massage, however is more commonly used for specific areas of dis-ease. Tui Na massage focuses on softening the fascia in the body and moving qi through acupressure points. These acupressure points are connected to the meridians. The fascia is the soft tissue in the body, otherwise known as the connective tissue in the body.  According to "Tui Na can improve blood circulation, increase range of motion and is effective in nerve regulation. Tui Na massage plays a role in rehabilitation and is effective in the treatment of muscles, tendons and ligaments."


Treatment using Traditional Chinese Medicine bodywork is a different then going to a massage studio and getting a full body massage on the table. Tui Na massage is usually performed with the clients clothes on, usually on a couch. The practitioner will usually use a series of questions, observance of posture and facial indicators, to help determine what is out of balance in the client. For example, if a client is having issues with their knees then there may be an imbalance in the liver/gallbladder meridian. The practitioner will then put pressure on acupuncture points to get the qi moving through the unbalanced meridian. 


Since traditional Chinese Medicine aims to heal the body holistically, the treatment usually does not stop with bodywork. Often times practitioners will use or suggest using herbal remedies to help restore the balance of these systems in the body. A change in diet may also be recommended.  We have all heard the saying, "Let thy food by thy medicine and thy medicine by thy food." Traditional Chinese Medicine is a firm believer in this saying.



Traditional Chinese Medicine bodywork aims to help the body to find balance to treat  dis-ease. It is done by moving the qi throughout the meridians. Each meridian is associated with an element, water, wood, fire, earth and metal, as well as yin or yang energy. The treatment is done by applying pressure to the meridians through the connective tissue. This helps to move any stagnant energy in the body. If you are looking to maintain overall health and balance the best option would be to get a full body Amno massage. If you are having specific issues with an area in the body then Tui Na would be the best option for you. Traditional Chinese Medicine is one of the oldest healing systems known. The next time you begin to feel out of balance, consult a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner today.  



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