Of late, there has been a noticeable trend of people looking to the East for alternative pain management techniques. A well known approach which has its origins in China is Traditional Chinese Medicine, also popularly known as TCM. Among others, TCM incorporates different massage techniques that alleviates chronic pain and improve one’s overall health and wellbeing. Medical Travel Asia explores a few of the better known ones here.
One of the more well-known treatments, Acupuncture is a method used to promote natural healing and functioning, and in some cases, can also relieve pain and improve sleep, digestion and a person’s overall wellbeing. This is done by stimulating specific anatomic sites or acupuncture points on a person’s body. The most common form of stimulation used is the insertion of fine, sterile needles into the skin. Other methods include applying heat or electrical stimulation at these points. This treatment helps correct imbalances in their digestion, absorption and energy production activities, in addition to improving the circulation of energy throughout the body.
The logic behind this treatment is that energy channels (also called meridians) run in regular patterns through the body, much like a flowing river flowing. As such, an obstruction in the movement of these energy rivers can cause pain or discomfort to the person. This is where acupuncture comes in. Needling these acupuncture points can unblock the obstructions, thus restoring the flow of the meridians.
In essence, Tui Na (which literally translates to “push and grasp”) produces the same effect as an acupuncture session. This ancient form of Chinese therapeutic massage uses various hand and acupressure techniques which are applied to the body to directly affect the energy flow while maintaining the energy balance in the body. Much like an acupuncture treatment, Tui Na removes blockages and keeps the energy moving through the meridians. Unlike acupuncture treatments, however, the Tui Na massage incorporates hand movements such as tapping, kneading and pulling to restore the energy balance in the body.
Why should you consider getting a Tui Na massage? Well, for one, it comes with a host of benefits! Among others, Tui Na is said to improve blood circulation and increase motion range. This massage is commonly used in rehabilitation therapies as it is effective in the treatment of muscles, tendons and ligaments.
Cupping happens to be one of the oldest methods of TCM. A traditional cupping session involves the use of glass cups with a flammable substance placed in them and set on fire to create a vacuum inside. As the flames die down, the cups are placed upside down onto the person’s skin. This is done so that the vacuum in the glass anchors it to the person’s skin and pulls it upward on the inside of the glass as the air cools. It is believed that drawing up the skin will open up the pores, which will then help stimulate the flow of blood, balance and realign the energy flow, break up obstructions, as well as draw toxins out of the body.
Do take note that this treatment can cause some swelling and bruising on the skin. This is because as your skin is drawn up, the blood vessels at the surface of the skin will start to expand where the cups have been placed, resulting in small, circular bruises. That being said, fret not because these bruises are usually painless and will disappear within a few days.