Tui-Na Orthopedics with Dr. Mark Cheng: Course Review

We have all heard of people having their own learning styles.  Some of us consider ourselves visual, while others tactile.  What is equally discussed is different teaching styles.  There are lectures, labs and problem based learning.  It is obviously important that we each find what works for us.  Then we have Dr. Mark Cheng who is distinctly in a class by himself as he is able to combine all of these approaches with seemingly little to no effort.  

This past weekend we welcomed back Dr. Cheng as he educated us in the ways of Tui-na.  Tui-Na is the branch of Chinese medicine that treats the patient using only the practitioner’s hands to bring about a change in the patient’s condition and promote soft tissue adaptation.  Like Chinese medicine itself, Tui-Na can be viewed as a sum of three different styles or systems.  It essentially boils down to three main skills – soft tissue treatment, skeletal alignment, and energetics.  Tui-Na is the least invasive of the 3 modalities of traditional Chinese medicine, with no foreign substance whatsoever penetrating the patient’s skin or being ingested.  With this, Dr. Cheng combined his own treatment styles including correctives with practical ways of thinking and approaching patients.  Through clinical discussion, case examples, and open and honest opinions that Dr. Cheng finds helpful to his practice we were able to significantly enhance our manual skills while re-defining our perception of joint mobilization, movement assessment, corrective exercise, and even our own bodies through energetics, such as re-establishing blood flow to the hands.  Notice the difference in color between the palm of my hand and my forearm.  Since Tui-na is non-invasive on patients it is also non-invasive on clinicians – allowing for vasodilation and comfort while performing manual therapy.  

In addition to the soft tissue treatments Dr. Cheng educated us in “LVLA” or as he likes to call it, Low Velocity Low Amplitude, mobilization.  Particularly at the cervical and thoracic spine we commonly preach poor posture and increased joint compression – well wouldn’t it be great to use gravity to decompress these areas as opposed to forceful manipulation of tissue.  If we truly think about it – it is a similar mechanism that brings patients through our door – forced tissue change through trauma.  As you can see in the video below the technique is incredibly gentle and not only comfortable for the patient but for the clinician as well.


YouTube video

This was not simply a manual course as mentioned.  We also covered resisted breathing activities, corrective exercise strategies and self mobilization/restorative techniques.  With Dr. Cheng’s practical advice, easy style of teaching and small class size it made it easily applicable to patients the next day.  In one case eliminating hip pain associated with a patient’s squat which has persisted for 2+ years, which then resulted in a follow up email stating appreciation for this “wonderful treat”.  I wish every patient thought of squats as wonderful treats!  

This was the third time Dr. Cheng has made an appearance in our clinic in as many years.  We could not be more grateful for his time and presence and truly cannot wait for the 4th!  

Until next time, Happy Rehabbing.  

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