Not just a massage

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Rub-downs help alleviate several medical conditions

Traditional eastern medicine has long proven that massage can treat the sick and soothe the ailing when applied correctly, says Dr. Huynh Tan Vu, a lecturer at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Medicine

Massages are not just for pampering at spas and beauty parlors, according to Dr. Huynh Tan Vu, a lecturer at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Medicine.

Dr. Vu says that traditional eastern medicine has long proven that massage can treat the sick and soothe the ailing when applied correctly.

The following are Dr. Vu's recommended traditional massage therapy remedies for common daily afflictions.

Smooth moves

Constipation is a problem of intestinal motion. Therefore, physicians just need to stimulate motion in the intestines in the right way.

Massage can help improve blood circulation, increasing the motion of the intestines. Bad digestion is often best treated over time, so it's preferable if the patient's relatives can help apply massage therapy techniques at home.

First, let the patient lie on his or her back. Rub your hands together until they are warm and then place them on the patient's right lower abdomen, just below the stomach and near the pelvis.

Press and move your hands toward the patient's left lower rib, then over the left lower rib to the left lower belly near the pelvis, then over the pubic symphysis to the lower belly near the pelvis.

Taking the navel as the center point, rub around the belly in clockwise circles 10-20 times. It should be noted that rubbing counterclockwise will decrease intestinal motion, which is a treatment for diarrhea.

Note that if the patient has been constipated for a long time, rubbing should be light and longer, for 25-30 minutes. New constipation needs faster, harder rubbing, and for a shorter time, about 10-15 minutes.

Cough suppressant


According to traditional medicine therapy, massage means using the hands and fingers to rub and/or press on different parts of the body like skin, tendons and joints to help prevent or treat some sicknesses. However, some masseurs don't have the skills necessary to give healthy massage.

On average, it takes one to two months of training to become an adequate masseur, and double that time to become a skilled masseur.

In large Vietnamese cities, masseurs can be found riding along the streets and alleys and they even make house calls, but it is hard to tell how much they know about what they're doing.

Dr. Vu said he has seen several patients taken to hospital because of bad massages. Some patients suffered sprains or dislocated joints, or even worse.

The patient lies on his/ her back, breathes at a steady even pace until and the whole body relaxes. Stand or sit at the patient's side and rub the chest with talc or lubricating ointment.

Apply both your hands on the patient's neck, move them down to the chest, over the nipples (for a male patient) and into the middle of the chest, back up to the neck. Complete this motion five times.

Then, rub along the ribs on both sides, moving from the chest to the lower rib, from the middle to the sides. You can use one to three fingers to rub along the ribs. Run your hands fully around both sides of the rib cage five times.

You can also massage the chest muscles by pushing those muscles together and pulling them apart and across. Rub the chest muscles with your palms moving in circles.

Wake your legs up

Sitting in any given position for a long time may cause your legs and/or feet to "fall asleep," a sensation also described as "pins and needles." Eastern tradition medicine treats this sensation in a variety of ways. One of the methods is to soak the feet in warm water and salt.

The principle is that the head should be cool and the feet should be warm. Thus harmony between yin and yang is achieved in the body.

If soaking the feet doesn't work after a long while, some pounded lolot leaves or mugwort leaves should be added to the warm water. Also, move the soaking feet about every few minutes.


Eastern traditional medicine defines massage as a way of rubbing and moving the muscles in a systematic way that stimulates the nervous, muscular and circulatory systems. The systems can be stimulated in general, one at a time, all at once, or specific aspects of each system can be stimulated by different types of massage.

It is necessary to note that the patient should not be hungry or full when being massaged because an empty stomach may lead to low sugar level in the blood while a full stomach may cause an upset stomach when the belly is massaged. After arriving at the clinic, the patient should rest for 5-10 minutes before being massaged.

Where to rub and which "trigger points" to press should be designated by a qualified physician rather than as asked for by the patient. If the patient feels tired the next day, the method is not suitable and should be changed.

Eastern traditional medicine therapy has 30 basic massage methods and five different trigger point pressure regions. Massage therapies should be given each day for 5-10 days at 45-60 minutes treatments each day. Each part of the body should be massaged 10-15 minutes each session.

Each trigger point (the selection of which is based on the ailment and particular stimulation required for treatment) should be pressed for 30 seconds to one minute each time.

It should be remembered that massage and trigger point pressure are short-term treatments; physical exercise is more significant in the long run.


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