Gua sha is a natural, alternative therapy that involves scraping your skin with a massage tool to improve your circulation. This ancient Chinese healing technique may offer a unique approach to better health, addressing issues like chronic pain.
In gua sha, a technician scrapes your skin with short or long strokes to stimulate microcirculation of the soft tissue, which increases blood flow. They make these strokes with a smooth-edged instrument known as a gua massage tool. The technician applies massage oil to your skin, and then uses the tool to repeatedly scrape your skin in a downward motion.
Gua sha is intended to address stagnant energy, called chi, in the body that practitioners believe may be responsible for inflammation. Inflammation is the underlying cause of several conditions associated with chronic pain. Rubbing the skin’s surface is thought to help break up this energy, reduce inflammation, and promote healing.
Gua sha is generally performed on a person’s back, buttocks, neck, arms, and legs. A gentle version of it is even used on the face as a facial technique. Your technician may apply mild pressure, and gradually increase intensity to determine how much force you can handle.
Gua Sha comes from the Chinese word for scraping because the treatment consists of scraping a special gua sha tool over the skin with pressure. This pressured scraping moves lymph, Qi, and blood, relieving pain and tension while breaking up scar tissue and muscular adhesions. Releasing the exterior with gua sha also helps with inflammation and immunity, as well as respiratory issues. Even though gua sha is a surface technique, the manipulation of fascia relays messages much deeper in the body and much farther than the immediate treatment area. The “sha” that comes up on the skin after a gua sha treatment looks like tiny red or purple dots (petechiae) and usually fades in a few days.
Similar to cupping, it is important to keep the area covered to prevent cold or wind from entering, as this could cause muscle stiffness and tension.
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