Massage, the physical manipulation of the surface of the body to relieve illness or discomfort, is one of the unique therapeutic methods of Chinese medicine. Although widely accepted as a popular means of health maintenance, massage is a marginalized practice within the herbal medicine-dominated field of Chinese medicine. In the early 1980s, Chinese medicine colleges responded to this problem by forming independent departments of acupuncture and moxibustion and massage. In spite of this new institutional support for students and faculty, most massage doctors treat a limited range of orthopaedic and soft tissue problems, usually in departments of massage or Chinese medicine orthopaedics at Chinese-medicine hospitals. Other important branches of massage, such as internal medicine and paediatric massage, are relatively neglected because herbal medicine physicians dominate these respective hospital departments. Most massage doctors insist that skilful hand technique and proper application of Chinese medicine theory are the keys to clinical efficacy.
Contemporary orthopaedic massage has also successfully integrated biomedical anatomy into its practice. Internal medicine and paediatric massage share a strong theoretical foundation with acupuncture, but each has its own unique hand techniques and innovative use of acupoints.
Outside of China’s health care institutions, massage thrives in different forms. Many massage doctors run lucrative private consultation services. Blind masseurs, excluded from the medical establishment, employ their own unique skills in a growing number of private clinics. Less skilled practitioners operate in new niche markets, such as foot massage and head massage. And countless individuals incorporate massage in their own daily health maintenance regimens.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.