Chinese massage is one of the techniques of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), along with acupuncture, herbs, exercise, diet and meditation. All TCM techniques focus on balancing the movement of qi or energy through the body. Chinese massage therapists first massage muscles to relax them, then massage acupuncture points to remove energy blockages and to stimulate the circulation of energy.
Traditional Chinese medicine is based on the concept of qi, which is believed to be the vital energy or force that animates living beings. Qi flows through meridians, pathways on the surface of the body that also connect internally to vital organs.
Qi can be strengthened by proper exercise and diet, as well as balanced emotions. It can be blocked by poor diet, lack of exercise or improper exercise, and rampant emotions. Blockages are experienced as pain in the acupressure/acupuncture points. Massaging these points helps remove blockages and restore the free flow of energy.
Chinese massage is very ancient. One form of Chinese massage, called "hit medicine," was developed to treat the injuries of martial artists. Tui na is a traditional form of physical therapy used by Chinese healers to treat injuries, reduce pain, restore the function of muscles and internal organs.
An mo is equally therapeutic, but more casual, such as family members might use to help each other. Qi gong massage is a medical massage used to treat disease.
For Chinese massage, you need not remove your clothing. Depending on the area to be massaged, you may be asked to lie down on a massage table or sit in a massage chair. The therapist will first massage your muscles using a variety of massage movements, including compression, kneading, rubbing, pressing and percussion.
Movements are repeated until the muscles being massaged are softer and more flexible. Then the therapist will massage the acupressure points, using his or her thumbs and fingers to press, vibrate, rub or knead each acupressure point.
The session usually includes joint movements, as the therapist moves each limb through its range of motion and stretches the muscles. The therapist may also use traditional liniments to enhance the effect of the massage treatment.
According to Touch Research Institute, scientific studies confirm that acupressure, a generic name for Chinese massage, is very beneficial. For instance, acupressure helps prevent nausea during pregnancy, in post-operative patients and during chemotherapy treatment for cancer.
It relieves lower back pain, and improves digestion and sleep. It is used in Chinese hospitals to treat patients after a stroke, after orthopedic surgery and to relieve musculoskeletal pain.
It is easy to learn basic acupressure massage techniques, which you can use to help your family and for self-massage. Look for classes at local massage schools or ask your acupressure therapist to teach you how to use acupressure massage.
Online bookstores have excellent books and videos that you can use to learn more about Chinese massage. Search online bookstores for videos about acupressure, tui na, qi gong or an mo. Websites such as Acupuncture.com and Acupressure.com also have information about Chinese massage.
- "Preventive Medicine" A Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial for Low Back Pain Treated by Acupressure and Physical Therapy; Hsieh, L.L.; Kuo, C.H.; Yen, M.F.; Chen, T.H.; 2008; 39, 168-76
- "Cancer Nurs" Effect of acupressure on Nausea and vVmiting During Chemotherapy Cycle for Korean Postoperative Stomach Cancer Patients; Shin, Y.H., Kim, T.I., Shin, M.S., & Juon, H.S. (2004); 27, 267-74
- "Journal of Advanced Nursing" Acupoints Massage in Improving the Quality of Sleep and quality of Life in Patients With End-s Tsay, S.L., Rong, J.R., & Lin, P.F. (2003) 42, 134-42.