Gua Sha is a form of bodywork originating from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It’s extremely effective in providing quick relief for a wide range of disorders by helping the body heal itself. It is a technique in which the lubricated skin of the person seeking treatment is repeatedly “press-stroked” with a smooth edged instrument. The application of Gua Sha dissipates stagnated energy, improves blood flow, stimulates lymphatic circulation and reduces inflammation.
According to TCM, where there is restriction in the flow of blood and energy called Qi there is pain. Gua Sha utilizes a variety of techniques including meridian dredging and acupoint Gua Sha to restore the free flow of Qi by bringing the stagnation to the surface. During a Gua Sha treatment, small reddish spots or markings may emerge from deeper layers to the surface of the skin. These small reddish spots are called petechiae. The concentration and size of petechia represent the severity of stagnation in the body. Gua Sha therapy is not trauma and the resulting petechiae is not a bruise. It does not have to draw petechiae to the surface to be effective. It all depends on the goal of treatment.
Some of the Therapeutic Applications for Gua Sha
Colds and Flu – Gua Sha increases immune cell activity which helps stimulate a strong immune response to the cold or flu virus
Fevers – Increased surface microperfusion from Gua Sha vents heat
Muscle and Joint pain – Gua Sha helps restore circulation to fascia and breaks up adhesions in the tissues
Scars – Gua Sha can break up and soften scar tissue as well as help to remove cellular debris that is stuck in the tissue minimizing the appearance of the scar
Soft tissue injury – Gua Sha induces localized inflammation that restarts the healing process by increasing blood and nutrient supply to the injured area
Headaches – Gua Sha applied to the head, neck and upper back can relieve the tension causing headaches
TMJ Dysfunction – Facial Gua Sha can alleviate jaw tension
Lymphatic Drainage – Gua Sha supports lymphatic drainage to reduce fluid retention
What does Gua Sha feel like?
There may be some discomfort during treatment, but it generally feels like a form of deep tissue massage that produces warmth and mild redness. During treatment you may feel the area releasing, and the tissues typically relax and begin moving better.
Is Gua Sha used as a stand-alone treatment?
Crystal Pavis, LMT, uses Gua Sha to treat clients as an adjunct therapy with other therapeutic bodywork modalities such as Cupping or Thai Massage, and typically not as a stand-alone treatment.
After a Gua Sha treatment, we encourage you to drink a lot of water. We also recommend that you shield the area where Gua Sha was applied from wind and direct sun or cold. The discoloration will fade within 3 to 5 days or no more than a week. Usually you will notice a significant reduction in pain and increased range of motion immediately. It typically takes three to four treatments to achieve lasting relief.