What is Tui Na?
Tui Na massage is an ancient healing art of Traditional Chinese Medicine which has been practiced in China for over 4000 years.
The name Tui Na comes from “Tui” meaning “push” and “Na” meaning “Grasp”. It is used to treat conditions that in western medicine ordinarily would require a physiotherapists, a chiropractor and an osteopath.
Tui Na not only works on the muscles and joints, but also at a deeper level, affecting the flow of vital life energy in the body. This ‘life energy’ is referred to as “Qi” (pronounced “chee”) and flows through the whole universe as the activating force for all life.
Qi flows through channels in the body called “Meridians”. Meridians supply Qi energy to the organs, body tissues and mind. Tui Na applies pressure to the Meridians and specific points on the to even out the flow of Qi through the body.
Traditional Chinese Medicine always views disease as an imbalance in the flow of Qi. When your Qi flow is balanced you feel confident and energetic as it affects you emotional, intellectual, spiritual and physical well being.
During treatment, the trained practitioner will ask questions about the patient’s lifestyle making careful observations. It is fundamental to Tui Na that the therapist and patient have an awareness between them. Feedback received from the patient during massage guides the therapist towards the points to treat and the amount of pressure to apply.
After Tui Na treatment, the patient will most often feel energized, happy and enlivened, however it can also release blocked emotional energy. This may result in the patient feeling emotional afterwards.
Tui Na is regarded as a very safe therapy, however there are times when Tui Na is not suitable for patients. Tui Na is not to be used on:
- children under the age of 5 (their meridian systems have not fully developed and a different technique is used)
- people with brittle bones (osteoperosis)
- people with serious heart disease or cancer
- the hip area where an artificial joint is fitted
- inflamed or broken skin
- lower back or abdomen during pregnancy
The Legacy of Shizuto Masunaga
by Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D., Director, Institute for Traditional Medicine, Portland, Oregon
Shiatsu refers generally to a Japanese pressure therapy used to relieve a variety of problems including back pain, neck and shoulder problems, stress, insomnia, digestive problems, and fatigue. It is based on traditional Chinese medicine techniques, particularly massage therapy that has been recommended since ancient tmes, with certain Japanese innovations.
Zen Shiatsu was established by a Shizuto Masunaga (1925-1981), who was born into a family of Shiatsu practitioners. After studying psychology, he decided to pursue shiatsu as well. While reading the classic medical texts, he investigated the practical clinical aspects of shiatsu. Masunaga became a professor of psychology at Tokyo University and, at the same time, he taught psychology at the Japan Shiatsu School. During the late 1970s, one of his new students, Wataru Ohashi, brought Masunaga to the United States, where he provided some teachings in New York and San Francisco.
Zen Shiatsu is a form of bodywork administered by thumbs, fingers, palms and elbows, feet and knees. It depends for its success on a meditative activity of the practitioner, aimed especially at detecting the body responses to the treatment, which influences the subsequent treatment step by step. Pressure is applied to all parts of the body along specific pathways (meridians). These are essentially the same meridians that are used in traditional Chinese medicine for acupuncture, though modified and extended by Masunaga (so they are sometimes called Masunaga Meridians). It is understood that this technique stimulates the natural healing powers of the body, wherefore symptoms of disease lessen and vitality is regained.
The professional Zen Shiatsu therapist is trained to feel the body's condition, particularly the circulation, by his/her hands in order to find the imbalanced areas in the body. By skillfully stimulating the imbalanced meridians, the therapist attempts to restore the balanced flow. From the Western point of view, shiatsu works directly to calm the autonomic nervous system, which has the effect of calming nervous distress and increasing resistance to stress. By helping with blood and lymph circulation in the body, shiatsu helps to maintain and improve muscle tone and healthy internal organ functions. It is believed that shiatsu can also strengthen the immune system. Regular and consistent shiatsu treatments can become an important aspect of preventive health care as well as treatment for existing symptoms.
Zen Shiatsu is ideally performed while the recipient lies on a futon or mat on the floor, allowing the practitioner access from all sides and the ability to apply pressure using body weight (as opposed to pushing just with finger pressure, as may be done with other shiatsu techniques). The shiatsu recipient should be dressed comfortably with light clothing. No massage oils or lotions are used or needed because the practitioner does not slide along the body surface, but gives a series of presses along the pathways.
Consistent with the basic concepts of traditional Chinese medicine, Zen Shiatsu is grounded in the theory that health problems are attributed to, or at least involve:
- imbalances in yin and yang;
- disharmonies between the internal organs; and
- blockages to the circulation of ki (in Chinese: qi; in English: chi) through the meridians.
The unique features of Zen Shiatsu, compared to traditional Chinese medicine techniques such as acupuncture or other shiatsu techniques, are these:
- For diagnosis, abdominal palpation is the primary technique used. Abdominal diagnosis (in Japan: hara diagnosis) is an ancient Chinese technique that had been largely abandoned in China, but became important in the practice of Kampo (the Japanese practice of Chinese medicine) around the beginning of the 18th century. Abdominal diagnosis is used in Japan for herbal medicine prescribing, acupuncture, and Zen Shiatsu. The diagnosis is primarily aimed at determining whether each meridian is relatively empty (Japanese: kyo, Chinese: xu) or relatively full (Japanese: jitsu; Chinese: shi). At the end of the treatment, the abdominal diagnosis is performed again to ascertain changes (improvements) that have occurred.
- Pressure is applied at intervals along the meridians that were described by Masunaga. He presented 12 meridians, corresponding to the 12 basic organ-affiliated meridians of the Chinese system. The meridian pathways are similar to, but not the same as, the Chinese ones; the main difference being an extension of each meridian to range from legs to arms, passing through the associated diagnostic region of the abdomen.
- The treatment involves brief contact with each point, in a somewhat rhythmic pattern as a portion of a meridian is traced. The contact is with fairly strong pressure that is applied using the movement of the practitioners body, fingers, elbows, and other parts of the body.
- To attain the proper combination of pressure and movement along the meridian, the practitioner may move frequently around the recipient's body and may even move the recipient (who is instructed to remain passive), such as lifting the head or arms. The actions may include turning or bending the recipient's body parts with the purposes of gaining access to essential points, stretching the meridians, and using gravity or leverage to attain the needed pressure at certain points. The therapy does not focus on one part of the body, even if the health problem is localized; the whole body becomes involved.
- The practitioner works within a meditative state, focusing on the responses of the recipient so as to properly direct the therapy, as opposed to focusing on selection of pressure points by a theoretical system. To develop this condition of heightened awareness and clear intention, the practitioner practices meditation regularly.
Because of its connection to traditional Chinese medicine, Zen Shiatsu serves as an excellent adjunct to acupuncture therapy as well as Chinese or Japanese herb prescribing, fitting well with the theoretical framework. Further, it serves as a complementary therapy for Western methods of manipulation, including chiropractic or standard massage (e.g., Swedish style), providing an entirely different stimulus to the body.
Trigger Point Massage Therapy
What is Trigger Point Therapy?
Trigger point therapy is a bodywork technique that involves the applying of pressure to tender muscle tissue in order to relieve pain and dysfunction in other parts of the body. Sometimes massage and trigger point therapy are performed together.
Trigger point therapy is also called myofascial trigger point therapy. It was developed by Dr. Janet Travel in the United States in the 1940s.
What are Trigger Points?
Trigger points are areas of tenderness in a muscle. There are two basic types of trigger points: active and latent.
Active trigger points cause muscular pain and will refer pain and tenderness to another area of the body when pressure is applied. Latent trigger points only exhibit pain when compressed, they do not refer pain to other areas of the body. Latent trigger points are believed to be one of the causes of stiff joints and restricted range of motion of old age.
Trigger points may be associated with myofascial pain syndromes or fibromyalgia. Trigger points are very common. They are also referred to as muscle knots.
Trigger points differ from acupressure points. Acupressure points are concentrations of energy or blockages of the body's energy pathways. Trigger points are physical phenomena that can be felt by touch.
The pain caused by trigger points may be the biggest cause of disability and loss of time in the workplace.
What Causes Trigger Points?
Trigger points have several causes. Some common causes of trigger points are: birth trauma, an injury sustained in a fall or accident, poor posture, or overexertion.
What is the Purpose of Trigger Point Therapy?
The purpose of trigger point therapy is to eliminate pain and to re-educate the muscles into pain-free habits. After several treatments, the swelling and stiffness of neuromuscular pain is reduced, range of motion is increased, tension is relieved, and circulation, flexibility and coordination are improved.
What is Table Thai?
Table Thai is the same as a Thai massage but it is adapted to the massage table.
Thai massage is believed to have been developed by Jivaka Kumar Bhaccha, physician to Buddha, more than 2,500 years ago in India.
It made its way to Thailand, where the Ayurvedic techniques and principles gradually became influenced by traditional Chinese medicine.
For centuries, Thai massage was performed by monks as one component of Thai medicine.
What does Thai massage feel like?
Thai massage is more energizing and rigorous than more classic forms of massage.
Thai massage is also called Thai yoga massage, because the therapist uses his or her hands, knees, legs, and feet to move you into a series of yoga-like stretches. Many people say Thai massage is like doing yoga without any work.
Muscle compression, joint mobilization, and acupressure are also used during treatment.
People describe Thai massage as both relaxing and energizing.
What should I expect during my visit?
Thai massage is usually done on a padded mat on the floor or on a massage table.
No oil is applied, so you are fully dressed. You are usually asked to bring or wear comfortable clothing to the massage.
A typical Thai massage is 60 minutes to two hours long.
What conditions is Thai massage used for?
Many people find that Thai massage has the following benefits:
- reduces stress
- improves circulation
- increases energy
- increases flexibility
- improves range of motion
- centers the mind and body
Massage is not recommended for certain people:
- infectious skin disease, rash, or open wounds
- immediately after surgery
- immediately after chemotherapy or radiation, unless recommended by your doctor
- prone to blood clots. There is a risk of blood clots being dislodged. If you have heart disease, check with your doctor before having a massage
- pregnant women should check with their doctor first if they are considering getting a massage. Massage in pregnant women should be done by massage therapists who are certified in pregnancy massage.
- massage should not be done directly over bruises, inflamed skin, unhealed wounds, tumors, abdominal hernia, or areas of recent fractures.
- Don’t eat a heavy meal before the massage
- Wear comfortable clothes, such as, sweats and a t-shirt.
- Be sure that your massage therapist has your complete health history, because people with certain conditions should not have Thai massage.
- If you feel discomfort at any time, let your massage therapist know.