Chinese massage therapy follows very closely to acupuncture in that is focuses on the meridian channels and is very similar in the conditions that it can help, however it shouldn’t be substituted for acupuncture as Chinese massage therapy has its own merits and benefits. It is a very effective form of therapy and is used alongside other traditional forms of Chinese medicine such as herbal remedies, Qi gong and diet.
Massage therapy stems back as far as 722 BC when it was seen in ancient medical texts and during the Tang dynasty in 1907 AD when there were thought to be around 56 massage Doctors in the Imperial hospital which was more than the total amount of acupuncturists and herbalists combined. The Chinese methods of massage were imported to Japan and this eventually become what is know today as Shiatsu massage in Japan.
The Chinese massage technique came about as the result of four Doctors who came together and combined the sophisticated techniques of traditional Chinese medicine into the massage technique. Soon Buddhist and Taoists began using the technique and adapting it to support spiritual yoga and meditation and the nonprofessional began offering massage for pleasure and relaxation.
Today Chinese massage is widely used and accepted in medical hospitals and schools and is an essential part of primary healthcare. Chinese massage is not just a single therapy but five areas that overlap and relate to each other, these areas are:
Amno press and rub – this is massage to maintain health and aid with rejuvenation.
Tuina, push and grasp – a sophisticated technique which is used to treat injuries and is classed as a medical massage.
Infant Tuina – this is the primary care in china for young babies and children.
Dian Xue, point press – this is more familiarly known as acupressure.
Wai Qi Liao Fa – Qigong masters will heal using direct transmission after many years of training and discipline.
The basis of Chinese massage
Chinese massage is based on the theory of Jing Luo or the meridian channels; the inner body is linked by a series of channels whose sole function is to transport the Qi and blood. When this happens, yin and yang are regulated and the body is protected against disease and illness, when there is a blockage of the Jing Luo pain and problems with the health start occurring.
The Chinese massage technique
The Chinese use between 30 and 70 different hand techniques in massage and these are called Shou Fa; these techniques cover soft tissue techniques and joint manipulation techniques similar to osteopathy. Some of the techniques used follow closely to techniques used in the western world while others are very unique to the Chinese.
The therapist who is skilled in the art of Chinese massage will combine the different techniques the same way as the traditional Chinese herbalist will combine several herbs to form a remedy. The whole aim of the massage is to achieve a proper balance between the yin and yang, so if the yin were the dominant and causing illness then yang techniques would be used to counteract the yin.
Good technique is also essential in the treatment and good form is said to be when the Shou Fa is soft and gentle yet penetrating and deep, it is the controlled deep moving pressure that is the key to the massage and one which the therapist will strive towards perfecting.