History of Tui Na (Chinese Massage)

Archaeological studies have unearthed evidence of Tui na dating back to around 2700 BC, making it the forerunner of all other forms of massage and body work that exist today, from shiatsu to osteopathy. The most famous ancient text on Chinese medicine‚ Huang Di Nei Jing‚ (The Classic of Internal Medicine of the Yellow Emperor) completed between the first century BC and the first century AD includes records of the use of massage techniques and how they should be used in the treatment of certain diseases.

The Yellow Emperor Huang Di

During the Sui (AD 581-618) and Tang (AD 618-906) dynasties a department of massage therapy was founded within the Office of Imperial Physicians and the practice and teaching of Chinese massage therapy continued to blossom. Dr Sun Si Miao introduced a further ten massage techniques and systemised the treatment of childhood diseases using massage therapy.

In the Song dynasty (AD 960-1279) and the Yuan dynasty (AD 1280-1368), an intensive analysis of Chinese massage techniques was undertaken and the therapy was further refined. It becomes the major form of treatment in the bone-setting and paediatric departments at the Institute of Imperial Physicians.

The Ming dynasty (AD 1368-1644) saw the next great flourish of massage therapy. It was during this time that it took the name Tui na. Many texts were written during this period, particularly on paediatric Tui na, which had become hugely popular.

The practice has only grown and continues to be institutionalized in China today, with Tui Na practiced in hospitals, as well as in every neighborhood of large cities like Shanghai.

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