History of Tui Na

Tui Na is one of the oldest forms of massage or body work, with archaeological evidence unearthed dating back to around 2700 BC. The ancient Chinese Medical text, Huang Di Nei Jing (The classic of Internal Medicine of the Yellow Emperor), records massage techniques and describes how they should be used to treat different diseases. 


Since that time, the history of Tui Na has been inextricably bound up with the political history of China. During the Sui and Tang dynasties the practice and teaching flourished. More techniques were added and the treatment of childhood diseases was systemised and recorded.


In the Song dynasty and the Yuan dynasty the Office of Imperial physicians undertook an extensive analysis of massage techniques and developed the therapy further. It was used in bone-setting and paediatric departments as the main form of treatment.


During the Ming dynasty Tuina continued to grow in popularity. It was during this time it got it’s name (translated as push-pull). This was also a time where many texts were written on the therapy. Paediatric Tui na in particular was used very widely.


In the early twentieth century during the reign of Guo Min Dang, doctors began to return to China after being trained in Western medicine in Japan. These doctors who were practising the mainly symptomatic treatments of Western medicine lobbied to completely ban the practice of traditional Chinese Medicine. Thank fully this proposition was rejected at the National Medical Assembly in Shanghai on 17 March 1929, a day ever since celebrated as Chinese Doctors’ Day.


Traditional Chinese Medicine was also initially under attack from Mao Ze Dong. However during the Long March of 1934-35 there was no supplies available for the Western trained doctors to perform surgery or prescribe drugs. Doctors of traditional Chinese Medicine were suddenly in high demand as the numbers of sick and wounded soldiers grew, and they were able to achieve incredible results.These events allowed doctors of traditional Chinese Medicine to demonstrate its use and prove that it had a significant and vital place in modern medicine.


Since 1948, under the People’s Republic of China, departments of traditional Chinese Medicine have again blossomed and Tui Na has become a central aspect of modern healthcare with most hospitals having a designated Tui Na department.


Philosophy and Principles of Tui Na

Tui Na works in accordance with the complex theory of Chinese Medicine. Fundamental to this theory is the life powering energy that the Chinese call Qi. Every aspect of bodily function depends upon Qi and its flow through the tissues.


The Chinese recognise a network of 12 paired meridians. These meridians are not like vessels, they have no anatomical structure but they are pathways along which the main flow of Qi occurs. It is best to visualise them as precise currents of Qi, just like currents of water in the oceans. Western scientific methods have recognized the similarity of the location of these pathways with myofascial network patterns.


At irregular intervals along the meridians there are specific Qi points (the acu-points of acupuncture) where pressure, needles or heat can affect the way Qi flows through the meridian. This effect can manifest itself on some part of the meridian quite distant from where the stimulus is applied.


When Qi flow is disturbed anywhere in the body, the Qi imbalance that results can cause pain, stiffness, sickness, even emotional pain. The Chinese believe that health and vitality depend on Qi balance in the body. Tui Na is one way of working with the body to encourage a restoration of harmony. Attention is focused on meridians and selected Qi points. They are massaged in different ways to remove blockages in the flow of Qi.


Regulation and Training

All the Tuina practitioners at Be Well London are also trained Acupuncture practitioners and are members of the British Acupuncture Council. The Tuina course at Westminster University included 80 hours of teaching and 56 hours in teaching clinic, treating members of the public under observation. All the practitioners have also completed a 3 year BSc (Hons) degree course in Acupuncture which has provided them with the Chinese Medical knowledge necessary to make a diagnosis, and a strong background in Western anatomy, physiology and pathology.