Interested in learning about massage therapy and the influence of traditional Chinese medicine? Massage therapists learn different techniques that help them curate massage routines and relieve the stress and pain of their clients. Some of the more common massage techniques that massage therapist learn include Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, and trigger point therapy. One technique that influences a massage therapist’s training and services is Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
What Does Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Include?
Traditional Chinese medicine helps to prevent, diagnose and treat diseases. TCM is based on the Qi, the body’s vital energy, that flows along meridians in the body to keep a person’s spiritual, emotional, mental and physical health in balance, according to the National Cancer Institute. The body is balanced by two opposing forces, the Yin and Yang. Half of a body’s organs are considered Yin and the other half Yang. When the Yin/Yang is out of balance it causes a blockage of Qi. These imbalances can be caused by stress, pollution, poor diet, emotion and infection.
Traditional Chinese medicine proposes that every organ in the body is made up of five elements, fire, earth, metal, water and wood. Made up of these elements, the body represents the larger surrounding universe and is interconnected with nature. It is the elements of nature that will help balance the body, relieve pain and reduce stress.
The Different Treatments to Regain Balance in TCM
Traditional Chinese medicine includes acupuncture, diet, herbal therapy, meditation, physical exercise, cupping and massage (Tunia).
Acupuncture – involves the insertion of very thin needles in strategic points on the body. It is used to treat pain, improve overall wellness and manage stress. By inserting the needles into specific points of the body’s meridians, the client’s energy flow will re-balance.
TCM Diet – foods are thought to have warming and cooling properties, that in turn have specific healing properties. Traditional Chinese medicine embraces eating locally and growing foods organically to align with the tastes, temperatures, colors and seasons. This diet encourages balance, clean burning digestion, and a functioning body full of energy.
Herbal Therapy – a TCM practitioner will create a formula of herbs that can change, depending on a patient’s needs. The combination of herbs includes astragauls, cinnamon, ginkgo biloba, ginger, and ginseng, to name a few.
Meditation – technique that encourages a heightened state of awareness and focused attention. Meditation can help with stress, relieve headaches, reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression, and improve self-awareness.
Physical Exercise – traditional Chinese medicine focuses on movement and concentration exercises like Tai Chi. Tai Chi cultivates the life energy within and flows smoothly and powerfully throughout the body. Described as meditation in motion, Tai Chi is a low impact exercise that utilizes the natural weight of the body to exercise the muscles.
Cupping – the use of warmed glass jars to create suction on certain points of the body. Cupping can help with pain reduction, reduced inflammation, increased blood flow, relaxation and increased well-being.
Tuina – a type of bodywork that combines massage and acupressure. Helps certain health problems like chronic fatigue syndrome, migraines, insomnia, and other disorders that cause the imbalance of the body that result in increased pain.
What is Tuina?
During a massage therapy program at a vocational school, students learn the art of traditional Chinese medicine and how it overlaps with massage. Tuina is a bodywork that combines massage and acupressure. Tuina helps stimulate the flow of energy or Chi throughout the body. This bodywork technique helps remove blockages and restore the body’s balance to improve the body’s health.
Why is Tuina Used?
This form of bodywork helps treat many disorders and diseases of the body. These body conditions that cause pain, stress, high blood pressure and poor mood include:
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – numbness, tingling or weakness of the hand caused by a pinched nerve in the lower arm. This disorder can lead to slower nerve impulses, less feeling in the fingers and poor coordination of the hand.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – extreme fatigue that can’t be explained by an underlying medical condition. Symptoms include poor sleep, difficulties with memory, focus and concentration and dizziness when lying down or standing too fast.
Fibromyalgia – a disorder that causes widespread pain, fatigue, sleep problems and memory and mood issues.
Insomnia – trouble falling or staying asleep. This disorder can be caused by stress, noise, light, temperature, and changes to a sleep schedule. It can also be caused by mental health, medication, diet, and other triggers.
Headache and Migraine – from pain in the head to severe throbbing causing nausea, vomiting and extreme sensitivity to light and sound.
Muscle Spasms – a slight twitch or painful cramp in a part of the body. The muscle spasm may last from a few seconds to several minutes.
Sciatica – a shooting pain down the sciatic nerve from the lower back through the hips and buttocks down the leg.
What are the Health Benefits of Traditional Chinese Medicine?
There are many different health benefits for traditional Chinese medicine that can address specific diseases and disorders. These benefits include:
Reduced Stress – those with increased stress have headaches, stiff muscles, muscle pain and overall discomfort. Stress can also increase blood pressure, cause poor mood and increased weight gain.
Lower Blood Pressure – the reduction of stress and increased relaxation can cause blood pressure to improve.
Reduced Pain – many disorders like arthritis, Fibromyalgia and Sciatica can cause pain. The use of traditional Chinese medicine can supplement traditional medicine in the reduction of pain in the body. While traditional medicine mutes the pain receptors in the body, traditional Chinese medicine works to relieve stress, improve mood, and remove toxins in an effort to re-balance the body, thus reducing pain.
Improved Mood – the release of endorphins induced by massage, acupressure and acupuncture can help improve mood. Disorders like depression and insomnia can be resolved with the help of traditional Chinese medicine.
Clearer Skin – the use of herbs, the reduction of toxins and improvements in diet will improve skin health and help patients achieve clearer skin.
Weight Management – traditional Chinese medicine embraces eating locally and growing organically that align with the tastes, temperatures, colors and seasons. This diet helps manage obesity, while the massage and acupressure relieve pain that allows the patient to perform physical exercises like Tai Chi.
Every technique whether traditional, herbal, supplemental or holistic is worth using for clients that are suffering from stress, pain and discomfort. Learn the art of massage with the help of traditional Chinese medicine and start a career as a massage therapist. You will be trained to help your clients both physically and mentally.
Did learning about how massage therapy uses traditional Chinese medicine interest you? Want to learn more about a massage therapy program? Broadview University developed the Massage Therapy certificate program with your future in mind. The certificate program is designed to emphasize skills and knowledge for entry-level employment as a massage therapist. The Massage Therapy program at Broadview University prepares students to take the MBLEx licensing exam offered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Board (FSMTB). Upon completion of the program, students will be eligible for professional membership in such associations as the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) and the Association of Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP).
Contact us today to learn more about becoming a massage therapist.