As I’ve already talked about, Chinese medical massage (tuina) has many applications, including aiding digestion.  In fact, one of the most effective uses of tuina is regulating digestion.  While most of the time we’d think to rub directly on the abdomen area to facilitate intestinal movement, tuina can be used on other specific parts of the body for digestion as well.  This is based on TCM Meridian theory (see Post | Glossary).

For example, we can use massage along certain parts of the DU meridian to aid digestion.  The DU meridian is located just next to the spinal column, extending from the butt all the way around the top of the head.

Location: To use tuina massage for poor digestion, start on the buttocks and move along the edge of the spine all the way to the top of the back.  Look for where the spinal column protrudes slightly more at the top of the back–stop there.

Technique: 捏脊法 (nie ji fa) Using the thumb, index, and middle finger of each hand, pinch the skin on either side of the spinal bone. The index and middle finger are together with the thumb on the opposite side.  It should not be a hard pinch but more just a gathering of the skin. (Its easier if the nails aren’t too long)

Process: Pinch 3 times, then pinch-lift once.  The 3-1 movement continues from the base of the spine to shoulder level. Always starting at the bottom and moving toward the head, repeat for 3-5minutes.

Uses: Weak digestion, upset stomach, or diarrhea.

Watch this video for a better understanding.  This first time, she does only the pinch with no lift.  The second time she does the movement as I’ve explained.  The third time she uses the side of her fingers, which is better if the nails are too long.

While this technique is primarily used on children, it can actually be used on anyone.