What is Tui Na Massage?

Tui na massage (sometimes called acupressure massage) is a branch of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). The name literally means “push and grasp” and tui na is a form of massage which uses many different techniques to relax the muscles and relieve pain.

 Tui na massage differs from other massage styles in that it is based on TCM theories such as qi and blood and the acupuncture channels. It is usually performed in a sitting or lying position, and can be done with the patient fully clothed or on bare skin. Herbal liniments may also be applied in some cases to speed up the healing process and soothe the painful area.  

Because the acupuncture channels run up and down the whole length of your body, your practitioner may work on other areas as well as the painful part. For example, if you go for tui na for neck and shoulder pain, your practitioner may massage your back, buttocks and legs as well as your neck and shoulders.

 tui na neck shoulder

Tui Na Massage for Neck and Shoulder Pain 

According to TCM theory, neck and shoulder pain are caused by a blockage in the free flow of qi and blood. This can happen due to physical trauma or injury, or as a result of chronic overuse, repetitive strain or poor posture. The neck and shoulders are also a place where many people hold tension in times of stress. This causes the muscles to become tight and leads to stiffness, loss of mobility and pain. 

Tui na works for neck and shoulder pain in a number of different ways. Firstly, it improves the circulation of qi and blood in the area, encouraging it to heal. This effect is enhanced by massaging the whole of the relevant acupuncture channel as well as the affected part.

Secondly, tui na massage helps to relax the muscles and release any knots. This relieves stiffness and improves mobility and pain. If you suffer from neck and shoulder pain with tension headaches, it should help to relieve these too.

Finally, tui na massage relieves pain by stimulating the central nervous system. Tui na is a style of massage which uses firm pressure so that a “good pain” can be felt by the patient. This also helps to trigger the release of endorphins, your body's natural painkilling and feel-good chemicals, leaving you feeling relaxed in both body and mind. 

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Acupressure Points You Can Use for Neck and Shoulder Pain

If you need some quick relief from neck and shoulder pain, you can try this simple self-massage for neck and shoulder pain. It can be done anywhere and should only take around 10 minutes. 

1. Find the acupuncture point numbered GB20 (Fengchi) which is located at the base of your scalp, just inside the hairline and around 1.5 inches out from the midpoint of your spine. You should feel a hollow area between the two bands of muscle on the back and sides of your neck. Place your two thumbs on the points on either side, and massage in small circular movements for 1–2 minutes.

2. Reach across your neck, using your right hand to massage the left side. Use medium to firm pressure to massage the muscle in small circles, working from top to bottom. Repeat this a few times so that you spend around one minute massaging the left side, then repeat on the right.

3. Circle your shoulders backwards and forwards, eight times each. Try to keep your shoulders relaxed and your neck straight as you do this. Then pull your shoulders up to you ears, tense the muscles and hold for a breath before letting them drop back down.

4. Turn your head slowly to the left and right, as far as you can comfortably go, then slowly look up and down. Repeat this a few times.

5. Reach you right arm across your chest and use your fingertips to massage the top of your left trapezius muscle (the highest part of your shoulder). Use small, circular movements and work from the base of your neck, outwards to the tip of your shoulder. Continue to do this for 1–2 minutes before repeating for the right side.

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