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Monday, August 27, 2018

My First Tui Na Massage

I took a trip to Chicago a few weeks ago. A friend (also a LMT) and I decided to try our first Tui Na massage from a business that touted "authentic Chinese massage".

They have many google reviews ranging all over the board, but the majority are positive. Most reviews rave about the reflexology, kind of bummed I didn't add that to my session! We both signed up for the Tui Na massage and having never tried before (and really not knowing anything about this technique), we weren't sure what to expect.

The business is a simple store front (not a spa). Personally, I've found some of the best massages are from small businesses rather than big chains or fancy spas.

My table was in a couple's massage "room" with 1 wall being a curtain to separate it from the hallway and other rooms. (All other rooms did have all walls.) The table was set really low and was the kind with the hole in the table for the face instead of a face cradle. Zero instructions were given from my therapist, so I just undressed and crawled under the sheet for draping.

My therapist started the session much like the below video - with rocking and compressions over the sheet. After that, she climbed onto the table and did compressions with her feet. Literally walking on my back. (I noticed after the session that there was some pvc piping on the ceiling for her to hold on to for support.)

Next, she undraped my back and used oil to do gliding strokes. I'm not sure if Tui Na is typically done directly on skin with oil, but this was their Signature Tui Na service, so maybe it was a blend of other techniques as well.

When she began working on my legs, it was as if the draping was in her way so she just pushed it off to the side. Completely off from me. I laid there completely exposed (prone) while she continued her work without missing a beat. If it'd been my first massage, I would have been completely freaked out, I think. But I just lay there thinking "well, this is different. I don't do it this way...". It is a different state (I need to do some further research to see if draping is a requirement in Illinois), and I'm sure there's also some cultural differences with Chinese massage.

But after the session was over and I talked with my friend, I discovered that she had left her underwear on for her session. When her therapist got to her legs, she just yanked my friend's underwear down to expose her glutes! Um, ok... that seems a bit more invasive and exposing than my therapist just pushing the draping off to the side.


I want to point out that I'm not massage-shaming this place. I just wanted to talk about the differences from what would be acceptable in my practice in my little Michigan town. As I mentioned, I don't know if state laws are different or if it's cultural differences, I just found it interesting. The massage was very effective, and while I wouldn't recommend it for newbies, I'm glad I got to experience it.

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