Types of Chinese Massage Therapies | TCM

Published: Apr 12, 2020 | Updated: Mar 12, 2021

Chinese Massage Therapies | TCM

Chinese massage is an umbrella name for a range of massage therapies practiced within Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Massage in China is one of the essential treatment modalities of TCM, together with dietary treatments, herbal medicine, acupuncture, moxibustion, and other physical therapy and meditative exercises.

Massage treatments in China developed alongside other modalities, and written massage treatment curricula go back as early as the fourth century BC. Chinese massage, like other TCM modalities, is based on the principles of the meridians, acupoints, and the free flow of Qi Vital Energy.

One of the characteristics of Chinese massages is that they are generally not intended for pampering or relaxation. TCM massages are deep tissue therapy massages that aim at maintaining or restoring health.

Another key concept of massage treatments in China is the holistic approach: massage is understood to influence the patient’s entire being, not only the physical body.

Some of the benefits of massage are thought to be:

  • Promoting healing of injuries and bruises
  • Stimulating blood circulation
  • Stimulating the lymphatic system and detoxification
  • Regulating the nervous system
  • Removing scar tissue
  • Alleviating emotional distress
  • Curing health problems that affect the internal organs
  • Increasing joint and muscle flexibility
  • Improving posture
  • Alleviating or curing chronic pains
  • Maintaining general wellness
  • Improving athletic performance
  • Strengthening the body’s immune system

Types of Chinese Massage treatments:

Session Characteristics

Chinese Massage therapists may use a variety of techniques: press, knuckle-roll, squeeze, knead, rub, dig, drag, pluck, tweak, hammer, push, pull, stretch, vibrate, and knock, including the use of the bare feet to apply the massage.

Massage treatments are usually given while the patient lies on his or her side on a couch or massage table, or is seated on a chair or stool. Typically, the patient wears thin cotton clothing, but massage can also be given directly on the patient’s skin.

Generally, before a session, the therapist will inquire about the patient’s (medical) history, his or her complaints, living environment and life style, being part of the TCM diagnostics protocol (visual inspection, listening and smelling, inquiries and palpation).

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