What is Gua Sha?
Gua Sha is a simple and effective traditional healing technique practiced widely throughout China as a sister treatment to acupuncture. Gua Sha treatment works to relieve tension, tightness and constriction held inside the body’s subcutaneous fascia, the thin sheath of connective fibers that encases the muscles.
How Does It Work?
Using a round-edged instrument to stroke the skin, and a measured, sustained application of pressure, Gua Sha reduces blockages, facilitates improved circulation and activates the immune system, stimulating and opening the fascia at a cellular level. Massage oil is applied during a Gua Sha treatment to smooth the sensation of friction, yet an effective Gua Sha treatment leaves a bruised appearance on the skin’s surface, a result that makes it occasionally off-putting to the Western eye. Yet clients should not be concerned— the bruising effect is normal, temporary and represents the petechiae, or stagnant blood and metabolic waste, rising to skin’s surface as the body cleanses and detoxifies.
Though the lingering marks of a Gua Sha treatment have given it a controversial reputation in the West, I strive to educate and encourage my clients to understand its unique and powerful healing potential that is well worth the temporary superficial markings, which typically fade within 3 days after the treatment. These markings upon the skin not only reveal a successful healing process but can actually be used as a diagnostic tool to identify the main areas of tightness and toxic build-up within the body. Removing blockages from the fascia results in a tremendous improvement of fluid and blood circulation in the treated area, and reduces tension and build-up of metabolic by-products in the surrounding muscles.
What Conditions Does Gua Sha Treat?
Gua Sha is used to heal, prevent and alleviate a variety of symptoms and conditions, from muscular pain to respiratory illness to digestive problems. It is also particularly beneficial when applied to the neck and shoulders, as these comprise some of the primary areas that the body holds and accumulates tension.
Held tension in the shoulder area not only creates pain and discomfort, and worsens posture, but can actually lead to chronic constriction of the trapezius muscles, which affects the flow of blood to the head, producing headaches, migraines and even insomnia. Gua Sha is an effective catalyst that can be used to end this vicious cycle of pain response by freeing the muscles to relax, cleanse and be restored to smooth, natural rhythms of circulation.