Let’s talk about Tui Na (Chinese massage). I just came back from my first Tui Na experience. Here’s what it is and what it can do for your body.
Lately I had been hearing from co-workers and other folks I train with that massage therapy is an incredible way to help out your recovery. I was especially tight in my traps and lower back so a few weeks later I decide to give a sports massage a try.
I googled the best place to get it done and booked an appointment.
I’ll be frank. It was shit. I mean it was relaxing, but I went there to get my muscles beaten up.
I gave up after this and swore to never use up any of my hard earn wages on a ‘sports’ massage again.
Later that week I was walking back from work. As usual, I was going about my evening, ordering some butter chicken when I saw a small sign in the corner of my eye. I look at it and it said traditional Chinese massage (Tui Na). As a curious soul, I sneaked up the stairs.
I open the door and at the top of the staircase a loud ringing sound hits me.
The room was tiny. Suddenly a 60-year-old Chinese man appears and asks me what I want. I proceed to tell him that I’m looking for a massage. He didn’t really understand me but I think he understood the word sore.
He grabs my forearm, squeezes it and asks me if it hurts, I say yes and he tells me to sit down. I wait patiently and finally he tells me to come through.
Long story short, the 30-minute massage involved burning cups stuck onto my back and multiple strikes to the back.
Relaxing? No. Therapeutic and good for recovery from the gym? A solid YES!
I felt like a million bucks after. All the pain I had in my traps and upper back from power cleans and snatches seemed to magically disappear. I was intrigued happy but also a bit frustrated I didn’t find this place sooner. I had wasted so much money on that lousy massage a few weeks prior.
Now I’m going to dive into how massage can actually have various physical and neurological benefits.
Chinese style massage (Tui Na) is much rougher. This style of massage allows your muscle fibers to stretch with the movement. Constant manipulation of the tissue (pushing and pulling) will have various systematic functions. Many argue that the only benefits of massage are psychological, aka an increase in endorphins.
Tui Na doesn’t necessarily increase your mood because of the pain. Even though it doesn’t put a huge smile on you face, it is very practical as it helps release tension tightness and allows blood and lactic acid to flow through the tissue.
This means speedy recovery and relief from physical stress.
So I’ve mentioned Tui Na a few times now, but what exactly is it? You have two types of Chinese massage, one is relaxing and one is not, Tui Na is the latter, it is not relaxing, more so painful, uncomfortable, but good at the same time — sort of like pushing on a bruise. It has been used for some time now as a part of traditional Chinese Medicine to help provide balance to the body through manipulation of not only the physical muscle tissue but also the life force and energy in our body. Many athletes theses days are taking advantage of those knowledgeable in Tui Na.
The power of Tui Na massage lies in its ability to manipulate and regulate qi or chi in the body. Sources say the practice uses a combination of massage, acupressure, and other forms of body manipulation to remove blockages that prevent qi from flowing freely. This leads to improved energy balance, and greater health and vitality.
As a trainer, I am constantly sore and tight from the gym. Traditional western massage therapy works. Tui Na is different and in my opinion superior as it works on a much more complex playing field. Tui Na offers complex manipulation tactics, rather than the very specific and specialized movements of western style massage. Tui Na involves movements that provide deep tissue push and pulling action, chiropractic techniques, herbs and energy.
Basically Tui Na offers more holistic benefits.
My overall experience and discussions with other trainers and my overall impression from the research I’ve done my conclusion is that Tui Na is perfect for the serious and everyday athlete.
Some other general benefits are increased flexibility, injury prevention, pain relief. The take home message is that Tui Na will facilitate a speedy recoveries and help you optimise your fitness goals.