What is Gua Sha? 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.
What are the benefits of gua sha? Gua sha may reduce inflammation, so it’s often used to treat ailments that cause chronic pain, such as arthritis and fibromyalgia, as well as those that trigger muscle and joint pain. Gua sha may also relieve symptoms of other conditions:
Does gua sha have side effects? As a natural healing remedy, gua sha is safe. It’s not supposed to be painful, but the procedure may change the appearance of your skin. Because it involves rubbing or scraping skin with a massage tool, tiny blood vessels known as capillaries near the surface of your skin can burst. This can result in skin bruising and minor bleeding. Bruising usually disappears within a couple of days. Some people also experience temporary indentation of their skin after a gua sha treatment. If any bleeding occurs, there’s also the risk of transferring bloodborne illnesses with gua sha therapy, so it’s important for technicians to disinfect their tools after each person. Avoid this technique if you’ve had any surgery in the last six weeks. People who are taking blood thinners or have clotting disorders aren’t good candidates for gua sha.