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 includes records of the use of massage techniques and how they should be used in the treatment of certain diseases. During successive dynasties Chinese massage therapy continued to blossom particularly the treatment of childhood diseases. Imperial Physicians further refined massage techniques in bone-setting and paediatric departments.
In the early part of the twentieth century traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) began to suffer; doctors trained in Western medicine returned to China from Japan and recommended banning TCM. Mao Ze Dong was also against TCM until the Long March of 1934-35. There were no drugs, anaesthetics or surgery available, and TCM doctors came to the rescue, achieving amazing results with vast numbers of wounded and sick soldiers. From this time on, TCM had its feet planted firmly on the ground of modern medicine and, under the People’s Republic of China established in 1948, all the departments of TCM were nurtured and encouraged to grow. In 1956, the first official training course in Tui Na was opened in Shanghai; other hospitals followed suit, opening their own Tui Na departments. By 1974 there were Tui Na hospital departments all over China.
Today it is becoming common in western countries and increasingly recognised as an effective alternative therapy producing positive results.