With origins dating back to 2700 BC, Tui Na massage is one of the oldest and most deeply rooted forms of bodywork still in practice today. The term “Mosuo” was mostly used to describe this form of massage in ancient times, while the modern term of “Tui Na” first came out during the Ming Dynasty in China. Roughly translating to “pushing and grasping”, Tui Na massage relies on various hand, wrist and elbow techniques to positively affect an array of presentations ranging from musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions to digestive upset to headaches.
Many of the ancient texts that first described the early techniques of Tui Na were lost in wars. The two most important early texts first preserved were found on inscriptions on bones and tortoise shells from the Yin-Shang Dynasty and also from medical books from the tombs of the Han Dynasty in Mawangdui, Changsha. These texts describe a time period where prayer and sacrifice were mainly used to “cure illnesses”. Tui Na was the only real form of medicine that was widely used at the time and records show that the people of that age were very skillful in using various external ointments and Tui Na massage to treat diseases.
Ever since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, this medicine has entered a new development age with modern research studies, the consolidation of ancient texts, fresh imaging capabilities (x-ray, MRI’s, etc…), and professional worldwide teaching practices. The gate control theory in neurophysiology has been employed to successfully explain the analgesic (pain-reducing) effect of Tui Na. It helped conclude that Tui Na creates distinct changes in the circulating speed of blood and lymph vascular fluid, which aids in lowering blood pressure, eliminating swelling, and reducing blood stagnation in the body.