Chinese Massage Therapy: What is it and how is it Different?

You may be among the group of people that are increasingly turning to massage as a form of alternative medicine – we all are.

In the age of canned foods and bottled beverages, it almost seems as if everything contains chemicals whose effects on the body are not yet apparent. Many of you are looking for a way of promoting the body’s recovery process.

The benefits of massage therapy on your body are numerous.

Massage lowers your stress level, blood pressure and helps you sleep better. The technique has been shown to promote the body’s healing process and bring about total relief from aches and pains.

Among the various techniques is the Chinese massage.

The method is comparable to acupuncture and is quite useful on a host of health challenges.

What is Chinese Massage Therapy?

Chinese tradition tells us that energy in the body has to move constantly to keep diseases at bay and relieve stress. A massage helps ensure that this flow does not stop in turn making you healthier.

While massage therapy is as old as the human race, the advent of Chinese massage is but impressive, to say the least.

There are ancient Nei Jing medical texts – that is between 722 and 481. Records from the Tang Dynasty indicate that the imperial hospital had up to 56 massage doctors.

This number was higher than the acupuncturists and herbalists combined – quite a significant number around 618-907 AD.

The technique went to Japan giving rise to Japanese Shiatsu. Swedish massage would develop later based on the Chinese massage therapy.

The development of this technique is from the combined efforts of four different groups. The first is the medical professionals that brought their complicated medical concepts of TCM and the second is martial arts with their ability to enhance healing and use the Qi.

And finally, the Taoist and Buddhist who used yoga as a form of spiritual support.

The massage continues to grow by incorporating western concepts into the traditional therapy. Contemporary medical schools and health facilities now acknowledge it and combine it with primary health care. It is now not unusual to find your local hospital including it as part of treatment.

There is a possible link between the use of the traditional practice of training and exceptional success that Chinese gymnasts and athletes demonstrate.

This 5000-year-old Chinese practice has been growing rapidly over the last two decades. People all over the world are running to it for relief from various ailments.

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Types of Chinese Massage

The Chinese massage is not a single technique; it incorporates five overlapping and related areas.

  1. Amno – for the maintenance of health and rejuvenation. The technique is common in martial arts and home. You may also find it in sports training and qigong.
  2. Tuina – usually found in the treatment of muscle problems, internal disorders and injuries.
  3. Infant Tuina – a common practice among Chinese used to treat young children and babies. The channels and points used here are quite different from the ones used others.
  4. Dian Xueutilizes simple pressure procedures to bring about healing. You will find it in health clubs as acupressure and is a standard home remedy. Acupuncturists employ it as a method of healing where they do not use needles.
  5. Wai Qi Liao Faa bit complicated as it involves the use of external qi to bring about healing. The practice requires many years of discipline and training to become qigong masters.

The Jing Luo Concept

Jing Luo is the common concept shared by the Chinese massage and acupuncture. The theory is all about collaterals or channels.

According to Jing Luo, your body has a system of networked pathways that function to transport blood and qi, control ying and yang, safeguard against outside pathogens and bridge the internal organs with the outside.

Any blockage to the Jing Luo results in pain and other health challenges.

The massage primarily centers on acupoints or the Xue and Jing Luo. This is where the qi resides, and a therapist can manipulate it.

So how does massage have any effect on Jing Luo?

Jing Luo activates blood and qi by enhancing their intensity. It also regulates them by guiding their flow and halting any stagnation. Jing Luo also clears the channels by getting any outside pathogens that may be taking residence in your body.

The massage relaxes the soft and connective tissue associated with flexibility and movement – jin. This helps straighten the joints and increase flexibility – picture the great flexibility that Chinese gymnasts have.

Together, joints and jin are essential in the enhancing the qi flow.

In Chinese massage, pain is as a result of an insufficient flow of blood and qi. This tells us why the therapy is so effective in pain reduction.

Chinese Massage Therapy Techniques

Techniques are what matters in any bodywork system. They are what determine the fee and quality of the therapy. The majority of texts list up to 70 hand techniques used in Chinese massage. These may range from soft tissue practices, joint manipulation, and percussion.

Even though there are some differences, the hand techniques have a particular resemblance to the western massage.

In general, the methods fit into two groups – the ying involving sedation and yang for stimulation.

However, each category is further split according to the therapeutic principles it accomplishes.

For example, Tui fa or pushing involves the regulation of counterflow, and mo fa or rubbing is all about yang stimulation. A professional knows how to combine the different techniques to attain the appropriate therapeutic goals. This is similar to how a doctor prescribes a different medication to bring about healing.

The professional massager has other tools they can employ toward a therapeutic goal. In particular, they can apply shou fa or hand techniques on specific channels, areas, and acupoints to achieve comparable outcomes to acupuncture needles.

They can also do it in different directions, consistent with or against the channel flow. It can be clockwise or even counterclockwise.

It is also critical the manner the therapists conduct shou fa.

Chinese texts recommend softness and gentleness yet profound and penetrating hand techniques. They must achieve rhythm and persistence.

For example, a tuina massager utilizes an intense, controlled pressure in one area. Mostly, they are likely to spend the same amount of time on one area that typical masseuses would focus on the whole body – they are quite thorough.

Tuina is what finger meditation is all about – the application of a single technique many times over with qi communication and deep penetration.

Other Techniques Involved

The masseuse may begin rubbing to create friction. This generates heat for better circulation underneath.

If you are suffering from abdominal problems, the practitioner will use small circular movements. But for back, limbs and chest problems, they will utilize gross scrubbing.

Joint manipulation involving abducting, pulling, and rotation will help improve your joint’s range of motion. But finger tapping will be on your abdomen, head, and the chest regions.

There is also pinching and grasping of the soft tissues by kneading, holding, pinching and twisting. Gripping the shoulder helps resume the qi to the chest.

Chinese Massage vs. Thai Massage

Both the Chinese and Thai massage is quite essential when it comes to pain relief and stress relief among others. There are a lot of comparisons between the two therapies that beginners may confuse between the two.

However, if you are to carefully analyze the two, you will notice that they are entirely different.

One significant difference is in the posture.

In Thai massage, you have to lie on the ground while the practitioner performs a number of yoga postures.

The Ayurvedic in Thai is what distinguishes the two in terms of principle.

On its part, Tui Na focuses more on chi or the acupoints. And as opposed to Thai massage where you have to lie on the floor, you can receive Tui Na while seated. The practitioner tries to stimulate the various pressure points through kneading, pushing and stretching.

In the majority of the cases, Tui Na combines with ZhiYa to relieve pain and bring about relaxation. ZhiYa is about pressing acupoints and pinching.

However, Thai massage uses yoga as a technique for bringing relaxation.

Another difference is in the duration. As a matter of fact, a full Thai massage can take as much as two hours while the Chinese massage only goes as far as one and a half hours.

Application of the Chinese Massage

In most cases, the Chinese massage is often gin while on a couch or stool. Some communities China still maintain an older practice of enhancing qi communication by working on the skin to facilitate the application of herbs.

The goal of anmo massage is a balance in full-body treatment.

The technique fuses yang techniques to restart flow and remove any stagnant qi and ying to lower stress and relax.

Typically, a masseuse follows a strict routine, but they are free to adapt according to the client conditions.

Tuina, on its part, relies on a comprehensive case history to uncover a complaint, the core outline, and the treatment principles. This process is what elevates this kind of massage above others. Depending on the treatment principles, the masseuse combines various techniques to bring relief by addressing the underlying pattern.

So, what are the Benefits of the Chinese Massage?

The therapy is ideal for relieving stress and pain. It enhances blood circulation to all areas of the body to facilitate health and avoid any lactic acid accumulation. The massage also helps you relax and calm down.

Chinese massage is an excellent way for people to deal with the stress that has been bringing you down of late and affecting productivity.

Regular sessions strengthen immunity, so your body can fight illness causing micro-organisms. The massage also aids prevent degenerative diseases that likely affect the bones, internal organs, and muscles. Studies show that receivers experience improved health after just a few sessions of the massage.

Improved circulation to various pressure points accelerates the recovery process. This is especially significant for people suffering from muscular diseases, diabetes, and hypertension among others. Some techniques are even beneficial for those living with heart conditions and lung complications.

Going for a 30-minute session once or twice a month revitalizes the body for a productive you – it is essential to be healthy to be at your nest at work and what better way to accomplish that than through the Chinese massage?

Other Benefits

Studies show the efficacy of the technique in the management of the mental and physical conditions. Among them, major depressive disorder, preterm infants that fail to thrive, autoimmune and immune diseases, pain syndrome and substance abuse.

The technique is also effective on musculoskeletal disorders.

Neck pain is a common ailment and massage can help in alleviating this pain. The massage also reduces any neck dysfunction and any other problem affecting the neck. In most cases, this technique reduces pain by promoting the release of endorphin.

Improved blood flow and reduced stress help you sleep better. The technique, therefore, helps achieve better sleep for health.

You will find that you are better at shedding off the stress and tiredness of the previous day. You face the day with new energy ready to take on any challenges that may characterize the day.

Improved circulation means better organ function for a healthier lifestyle devoid of illnesses. You experience better respiration for better control of bodily functions.

Increased blood flow is also essential for a glowing and shining skin – this especially good news for those conscious about their appearance.

One study shows that the Chinese therapy helps in the recovery process of those suffering from cervical radiculopathy. Together with cervical traction or on its own, Tui Na alone may be helpful as the sufferers have reduced pain.

Typically, people suffering from cervical radiculopathy experience a significant amount of pain in their neck region.

In this case, the massager uses their fingers on soft tissue or body parts with the intention of releasing muscle tightness and pain location.

The Pediatric Massage

The Chinese pediatric massage, xiao er tui na is ideal for children who are typically frail with reduced emotional and physical barriers. Masseuse finds babies easier to heal as their qi is not too hidden.

This means they are quicker to heal than he adults despite using massage oils and a different acupoint system of massage oil.

Xiao er tui na has many benefits on toddlers.

For example, a researcher found out that it had a positive impact on kids who have cerebral palsy when mixed with music therapy. The practitioners provided segmental massage, footplate, pinching and soothing background music.

There were significant measurable differences after the massage regarding spasm control, the range of motion, and gross motor function – quite substantial.

What should you expect from a Chinese Massage Session?

The massage technique can more than thirty minutes. It is imperative to first establish trust and excellent communication as it helps you open up as the session is going on.

Before the session can even begin, it is necessary to discuss your health history.

If there are any health issues, it would be best to tell the masseuse so that they may advise you as necessary.

You will then discuss the goals of the therapy and the techniques they will use – this saves you from getting too surprised by the methods especially if you are a beginner.

In normal circumstances, the masseuse will leave you to your privacy so that you can disrobe and spread a sheet over your body.

If you are uncomfortable, now would be the best time to discuss it with the therapist. You have a choice on what to wear during the session and pause stop the session or the kind of music you prefer – the primary goal of massage is relaxation among others and which is only possible when you are comfortable during the session.

The therapists will probably encourage talking throughout the session for a number of reasons.

For starters, this helps the practitioner get the necessary feedback to determine whether there are changes needed towards the ideal outcome. Depending on you, they may increase the intensity or reduce it entirely.

Typically, the Chinese massage therapist will focus on your jin – the soft tissue linking the body. Another they will likely work on is the acupoints – links the various organs in your body what the Chinese refer to as the meridian.

You notice some similarities between the western versions such as squeezing, stretching, pressing and kneading. Some additional actions will include gentle plucking, knuckle, and dig. There may also be vibrating and hammering methods.

Don’t let it surprise you if he also walks on your back. However strange it may seem, the effort is all worth it. Chinese massage has the backing of thousands of years evolving as a form of treatment.

Final Word

The Chinese massage therapy is among the oldest alternative medicine therapies.

It involves various techniques but centers mostly on chi and ZhiYa. There are numerous benefits of getting the massage regularly. Such benefits include better blood flow, reduced pain, and improved health.

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