Gua Sha is a light friction technique to improve blood flow, decrease tightness, remove toxins, and promote healing
Gua Sha is an Oriental Medicine technique used by practitioners for 2,000+ years. It utilizes a specialized smooth-edged instrument to scrape (rub) the skin mildly. The name Gua Sha comes from the Chinese word for “scraping.”
Like Acupuncture, this specialized technique regulates the body’s energy, also known and Qi or chi. Oriental Medicine practitioners believe that the body’s Qi must be balanced and move freely to ensure wellbeing and health. Blocked energy can cause inflammation, pain, and tension in muscles and joints.
Furthermore, Traditional Chinese medicine believes that blood stagnation can be the cause of pain and illnesses. Another purpose of Gua Sha is to move stagnated blood to relieve symptoms associated with blood stagnation (also known as blood stasis). One of the significant causes of pain can be due to blood stagnation.
Blood stasis is when the blood is not flowing or circulating as optimally as it should. Localized blood stasis can be due to overuse or trauma, including sprain, broken bones, bruises, etc. More generalized blood stasis may cause fatigue, fibromyalgia, headaches, digestive problems, constipation, among other symptoms.
There are many causes of blood stasis (or stagnation). Imbalance in your body due to too much or too little of something. Too much sugar, too little sleep, too much alcohol. Sedentary life or lack of movement decreases the circulation of blood. Overtraining can damage the muscles and tendons and lead to inflammation and swelling, reducing blood flow over time. Emotional stress can lead to tight muscles, which slows blood flow over time and can result in Qi and blood stagnation. Trauma can lead to a decrease in blood flow. The most common cause of blood stasis is Qi deficiency because Qi moves the blood.
Gua Sha is an alternative method to treat painful areas, relieve muscle and joint stiffness pain. Using this method, the practitioner can break down scar tissue and release tension to improve joint movement. Gua Sha can also benefit the immune and lymphatic system by removing toxins from the body.
Gua Sha can appear painful because patients may experience bruising and redness, like in Cupping Therapy. During the Gua Sha treatment, tiny blood vessels beneath the skin can break. The reason for the redness and bruising appearance. The size and darkness of the areas can vary greatly, depending on the patient’s condition. Usually, redness and bruising go away within 2 to 4 days.
The practitioner must feel (palpate) the muscle tightness and assess the area of complaint. The press-strokes applied during gua sha involve a significant pressure for treatment to have the most benefits.
The ancient healing technique may offer a unique approach to a better quality of life for patients with acute and chronic pain. Several conditions associated with chronic pain can be due to inflammation in the body. Some pain-related conditions treated are back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, tendon strain, carpal tunnel syndrome, etc.
Nowadays, our bodies experience a lot of stress and muscle tension. Hunched over a computer for hours or looking down at the phone. Neck pain and headaches can be the result of stress, muscle tightness, and improper posture.
Facial Gua Sha is another widely used treatment. This technique relieves tension of the muscles in the face, boosts blood circulation, encourages lymphatic drainage, and decreases puffiness.
Licensed Acupuncturing or Chinese Medicine practitioners should perform this technique to ensure safe and proper treatment.
Gua Sha Benefits:
- Increases blood circulation.
- Moves lymphatic fluid.
- Relieves pain (backache, neck pain, headache, joint, and muscle pain).
- Loosens fascia (connective tissue around the muscle).
- Loosens scar tissue.
- Helps eliminate toxins.
- Relaxes muscle tension and tightness.
- Improves joint movement.
How Does Gua Sha Work?
Gua Sha is a natural, safe, and effective treatment that involves scraping the skin with a specialized tool. The practitioner performs short or long strokes, known as “scraping” or “press strokes.” The pressure of the stroke depends on the area (bony area vs. flatter muscular areas). Gua sha typically involves applying massage oil to the skin before starting the treatment.
The treatment involves applying enough pressure to create minor bruising or micro-trauma. The motions stimulate the soft tissue’s microcirculation, which increases blood flow. Gua Sha focuses on bringing toxins and excessive heat to be released at the surface of the body. This technique increases circulation, breaks up scar tissue, moves stagnated blood, reduces inflammation, and promotes healing.