Tuina (Chinese) massage: why is it different from sports and deep tissue massage

Tuina massage has been used in Chinese medicine for 2.000 years. What people don´t know is that it has been used even before acupuncture. This modality of massage has many benefits and has been used to treat musculoskeletal issues such as neck and  back pain.  Tuina’s approach is similar to other remedial massage modalities such as Sports & remedial massage and  deep tissue.  Let’s begin…

What is a Tuina massage?

The main goal of this type of Chinese massage is to remove the energetic blocks that cause qi stagnation. In other words, Tuina massage focuses on those muscles that  are tight and causing pain.  Tuina can use up to 80 techniques to activate your energy points. As it is part of the Tuina combined with traditional Chinese medicine (yoga, aromatherapy, Ayurveda medicine,  etc.) and a healthy lifestyle gives you the best results. 

What can Tuina help to deal with?

As part of the traditional Chinese medicine, Tuina can help:

  • Treat muscular, bone or ligament problems
  • Sports injury
  • Tight muscles 
  • Sciatica
  • Arthritis
  • Muscular spasms
  • Neck, hips, shoulder, legs, knees, ankle and back pain
  • Respiratory, digestive and reproductive problems
  • Menstrual pain
  • Insomnia
  • Head pain and migraines

In addition, Leonid Rozman, in his Tui Na London Center, has developed a method that helps parents to improve the life quality of autistic children. It is a structured and predictable type of massage that is well received by children having good results and relieving different symptoms. 

How is Tuina performed?

Your therapist may use fingers, hands, arms and elbows to perform the massage. It is vigorous and energetic, and works on deep tissues to release knots (blocked areas). Some of the most used techniques are:

  • rubbing, 
  • smoothing, 
  • kneading, 
  • stretching, 
  • rolling
  • slapping or tapping, 
  • brushing, 
  • vibrating and more…

Is it painful?

When your therapist touches some points of your body, these can be painful, but it is due to the tension the muscle has. Your therapist will work on the area till the knot is finally released. But don´t worry, the movements and treatment will be progressive so it won’t be harmful. Some cases may need more than one session to release the affected areas.

Risk factors

Tuina massage can´t be performed if you have an injury or fracture. 

Why is Tuina different from sports and deep tissue massage?

Let’s see the differences separately:

sports & Remedial massage

Sports & Remedial massage is more localized and focused on the  area of the problem, the aim is to restore range of movement and reduce pain. A regular session starts by asking you to perform a certain movement to determine the cause of the problem and give you a treatment plan. 

The goal is to restore muscles, ligaments, and tendons to optimal health. 

  • restoring function back into damaged tissue
  • managing and preventing pain
  • optimizing range of movement and flexibility so that the body performs to its best

More specifically, this is achieved in the following ways. By,

  • improving the blood flow through damaged tissue
  • breaking down and reforming scar tissue at the site of an injury
  • removing metabolic waste from tissue

Deep tissue massage

Deep tissue on the other hand, could be performed in a hold body and can be used for maintenance to release inner layers and prevent pain and injury. Not all Deep tissue massages are the same. If you are looking for just maintenance or relaxing massage any massage therapist can do it, but if you are looking to treat an injury or release pain you need to look for a therapist that has experience in your problem.  

Targets the inner layers of the muscles. 

  • Used to treat muscle and tendon injuries, pain, and stiffness in the major muscle groups and joints. 
  • Uses firm pressure and slow strokes to reach deeper layers of muscle and fascia.
  • Doesn’t have such a specific focus as sports massage or Tuina
  • Often used for people with chronic pain.
  •  Can be used to help with rehabilitation from injury (not always sport-related).

To summarise

All 3 massage modality can help you as long as the massage therapist has experience and understanding of the  injuries or pain and the cause of it, in order to give you an adequate treatment plan to heal faster and to prevent your injury or pain from recurring.  

We hope this information is useful for you. If you need advice or have any questions about our treatments, please contact us. You can find us in Mill Hill Broadway and Islington. We are always happy to help. If you like this blog, please share!


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