What are Shiatsu and Tui Na Massage Therapies?

Shiatsu is a style of bodywork that originated in Japan. It is similar to acupuncture, but uses finger pressure instead of needles. Shiatsu is performed through clothing and does not use oils or lotions. Clients are instructed to come in loose comfortable clothing to allow the practitioner to work easily and perform stretches as part of the therapy.  Shiatsu’s goal is to restore the healthy flow of energy throughout the body by working along the acupuncture meridians.

Like Shiatsu, Tui Na uses pressure along the acupuncture meridians of the body as well as a variety of techniques that manipulate and lubricate the muscles and joints.  The style of Tui Na practiced in China today is closer to the work of chiropractors, osteopaths, and physical therapists than to that of massage therapists. It’s taught as a separate but equal field of study in schools of Traditional Chinese Medicine, requiring the same level of training as acupuncturists and Chinese herbalists.  As Tui Na has migrated to the West, the style of work has been modified. Most western trained Tui Na practitioners do not do “bone setting,” as do their counterparts in China.

One of Tui Na’s advantages over simple massage is its ability to focus on specific problems, especially chronic pain associated with the muscles, joints, and skeletal system. It’s especially effective for joint pain (such as arthritis), sciatica, muscle spasms, and pain in the back, neck, and shoulders. It also helps chronic conditions such as insomnia, constipation, headaches (including migraines), and the tension associated with stress.

Tui Na does not simply work on the muscles, bones, and joints, It also works with the energy of the body at a deeper level. As the practitioner senses the client’s body with her hands, she is able to assess the distribution of energy and affect its flow.

Both Shiatsu and Tui Na are designed to prevent problems, not just correct them. By keeping the body’s energy in balance, health is maintained. This is true not just for physical health, but for mental and emotional well-being as well.

What happens in a Shiatsu and Tui Na Session?

For both Shiatsu and Tui Na, you are asked to wear loose clothing. The practitioner will use their fingers, thumbs, knuckles and elbows to apply pressure and kneading to specific points along the acupuncture meridians.  The Tui Na practitioner will also use techniques of rolling, tapping, pushing, pulling, nipping, grasping, rubbing and tapping to treat the individual needs of their client.