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Healing touch of TCM massage therapy

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Post time: 2009-04-27 14:26:36
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Lu Tong, the head of an IT company, sprained her back about two weeks ago.

In pain, and with a rather stiff back, she visited several hospitals to seek relief.

However, the pain persisted. She could only move about with difficulty.

Then she decided to try massage, at the clinic of Wang Qiang, a private massage practitioner in Beijing.

In recent times massage has become quite popular, with massage clinics popping up on almost every corner of residential areas in urban centres. Even the local barbers, hairdressers and beauty salons now offer foot or facial massages.

Most people, especially tourists, go to these places for relaxation.

But these places are very different from those of Wang and other practitioners, who offer TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) therapeutic massage.

Even by the third session at Wang's clinic, Lu still felt the finger pressure exerted by the practitioner to be uncomfortable.

"I felt swelling and tingling when he was pressing on my back," Lu said.

However, she continued to visit Wang because the pain in her back was reduced and she could move more freely again.

Lu did not seek Wang out at random. Three years ago, her brother suffered a kind of muscle strain in his left leg and could not climb stairs.

After undergoing several sessions of massage therapy in Wang's clinic, he saw much improvement in his walking.

From then on, when any member of Lu's family got a sprain injury, they would go to Wang for help.

Wang started his small massage clinic in his family's living room only five years ago.

Most of Wang's clients are neighbours, acquaintances or others who have been introduced by the patients he has treated. Since his practice has grown in reputation, he has recently set up his own personal massage website to offer people some basic knowledge of TCM massage online.

Hard start

Wang was born an albino. In his childhood, Wang, with white hair and poor vision, had to brave discrimination from his peers. He made up his mind to become a doctor, to help rid the world of disease so that no one would suffer from bigotry because of illness.

At the age of 7, he started to learn TCM massage from a Taoist expert in traditional Chinese medicine. His master made him memorize all the acupuncture points in the human body. He also learnt the combinations of different sets of acupoints for relieving and treating different kinds of pain, injury, soreness and even some illnesses.

And in order to increase the force of his finger pressure, Wang was asked to practise twisting off rice shells every day.

His teacher said the finger must be able to exert enough force to penetrate through the skin to reach a strained muscle.

"It was quite painful when he was pressing the acupoints on my back. However, after his hands left my body, I felt so comfortable," said Wei Wenbao, a sales representative, who was lying face down on the massage bed.

"It is normal for them to feel numb and aching during the massage, because all my acupressure follows the meridians," said Wang. The acupoints spread along what the TCM theory stipulates as the meridians.

The "life energy," also referred to as qi in traditional Chinese medicine, flows through channels in the body called "meridians." Meridians supply qi energy to the organs, body tissues and mind.

TCM massage applies pressure to the meridians and specific acupoints on them by pinching, rubbing, vibrating and pressing with palms or fingers to help remove obstructions in the meridians, enabling the qi to flow and relieve stagnation.

Wei suffered from neck ache for years and he admitted that he did not believe in TCM massage at all in the past.

"Sometimes, I went to public baths to have a massage. But the feeling of relaxation and freedom from pain was only temporary. The next day, I felt the same as before," said Wei.

Wei's impression of massage totally changed after undergoing a therapy session at Wang's clinic.

"My neck ache has not relapsed," said Wei.

He has kept a regular appointment with therapist Wang once every one or two months. He believes it will make him healthier, he said.

What can TCM massage help?

Doctor Wang said that TCM massage works most effectively in correcting the displacement of joints, enhancing joint mobility, healing soft tissue injuries and chronic muscular strain.

All these help mostly the people who work in offices and lack regular exercise.

"Owing to high work pressure, lack of physical exercise and irregular meals and sleep, the normal function of their tendons has been on the decline," said Wang.

For Lu Tong, her back sprain was only a trigger for her sufferings. In fact, sitting in front of a computer all day had already caused serious hyperplasia in her back. She admitted that she had never noticed it at all before she sprained her back.

Many of Wang's clients had complained about pains and discomfort even when their bone fractures had healed after receiving regular Western medicine treatment in hospitals.

"When a bone fractures, the injured parts are certainly not just the bones, but also the surrounding tendons and nerves.

In some hospitals, the healing of the tendon is neglected while the doctors only care for the bones," said Wang.

Zhang Shui, a public servant in the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, had his anklebone fractured when he was playing basketball.

Though the bone was quickly re-set, the pain in his ankle was still unbearable.

"Generally 15 days after a bone fracture, the tendons around it will go stiff and stick to each other. That is why aching frequently occurs despite the healing of bone fracture," said Wang.

After undergoing massage therapy from Wang's fingertips, Liu returned to the basketball court only three months after the bone fracture.

Having studies in a sports school, Zhang knew well that the majority of people who have bone fractures will have certain sequelae, such as aching during rainy days. But he has been freed from any discomfort since the recovery.

"In fact, I just put the injured tendons, nerves and vascular in the right order through massage. There is nothing magic about it," Wang explained.

He said TCM massage was especially effective for relieving chronic pain, such as in the back and neck.

Western medicine invariably prescribes medicines or even surgery to treat back problems, such as spondylosis, spinal osteoarthritis, prolapsed lumbar discs and muscular lumbar strain.

Werner Heil, a German consultant working in China, had been troubled for years by his stiff neck and back. He said he had great difficulty in moving.

He had taken a lot of drugs, and finally, he was advised to consider surgery.

But at the recommendation of his Chinese wife, he started to try some TCM massage.

To his great surprise, he felt that his neck and back became much more flexible after a session of therapy.

"Now I keep going for regular massage therapy, because it has proved to be the most effective medical option for my problems," said Heil.

Massage in question

Massage is an ancient healing art of TCM, which has been practised in China for over 4,000 years.

Especially in recent years, massage services are booming, whether they are offered at a bathing centre, in foot massage units, barbers, or hotels.

"The thriving health care massage business in recent years shows that the people are becoming more aware of the importance of health maintenance," said Liu Changxin, director of TCM massage department in Dongzhimen Hospital affiliated to Beijing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Pharmacology.

However, TCM massage experts worry that substandard massage seems to be the norm.

Differing from the TCM massage that aims to treat aches in neck and back through stimulation of acupuncture points, the popular massage services put more emphasis on muscle relaxation and relieving fatigue.

According to Liu, for people who receive massage regularly from the well-trained practitioners, the risk of developing high blood pressure and cervical spondylosis can be greatly reduced.

However, many practitioners in the business were young women who received only three months of massage training, at best.

"In such a short time, it is impossible for them to command the basic knowledge of massage, such as anatomy and meridian doctrine," said Liu.

A lot of people believe that massage brings only benefits to their bodies. "That is the wrong concept. In fact, improper massage can cause damage sometimes," Liu warned.

For example, during a foot massage, if the reflex zones in the feet received too much stimulation, people may suffer a recurrence of heart disease. Also, erroneous massage techniques and too much force can likely injure the cervical vertebra.

TCM massage experts worry most about the prevalence of men seeking erotic stimulation at a massage session.

"This has given massage a bad name. The practitioners providing standard massage service are losing their clients," said Wang.

On the banks of Shichahai in Beijing, open-air massage services feature as one of the tourist attractions of this scenic spot. Foreign tourists seem to develop a stronger interest for it than local residents.

Han Yansheng, in his 40s, who earned the certificate of a senior masseur three years ago, has been doing massage here for nearly three years.

"In order to make a living, I had to come here to seek clients," said Han.

There were dozens of masseurs like Han, all in middle or old age, who take a wooden stool with them and wander around in the crowd to seek potential customers.

"Actually, I do not quite like this way of providing my massage service. But I cannot find a job in the massage centres, because customers all favour young women to do massage for them," said Han.

He was quite confident with his skills and he already had regular foreign customers here.

Now his biggest wish is to open his own massage clinic like doctor Wang.


From ChinaDaily.com.cn

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Post time: 2009-04-27 14:26:46
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Great information
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Post time: 2009-04-27 14:26:58
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I have been studying course CD now for the past almost two months. I find this online course very interesting.
I have read some of the postings and i see that we can share and learn more.
Can some one send me the contact addresses of Wang qiang as i have read in one of the postings.
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