What is Gua Sha
Gua Sha is a healing technique used in Asia by practitioners of Traditional Medicine, in both the clinical setting and in homes, but little known in the West. It involves palpation and cutaneous stimulation where the skin is pressured, in strokes, by a round-edged instrument; that results in the appearance of small red petechiae called ‘Sha’ that will fade in 2 to 3 days.
Some view Gua Sha as folk medicine, but the scientific research community may beg to differ! Researchers from institutions like Harvard and Beth Israel Medical Center are demonstrating both efficacy's as well as offering insight on why Gua Sha works. A study published in a 2011 edition of Pain Medicine (see link at bottom of the page) demonstrated that Gua Sha decreased pain for chronic neck pain sufferers, noting that “neck pain severity after 1 week improved significantly better in the Gua Sha group compared with the control group (heat therapy).”
Gua Sha, is an ancient healing technique used throughout Asia for ages. Gua means to rub or friction. Sha is the term used to describe congestion of blood at the surface of the body. When friction is applied, in repeated even strokes, the “Sha” surfaces as small red petechiae on the skin surface. In minutes the petechiae fade into echymotic patches. The Sha disappears totally in two to four days. The color and rate of fading are both diagnostic and prognostic indicators as with Graston.
The benefits of Gua Sha are numerous. Gua Sha moves stuck blood, promoting normal circulation to the muscles, tissues, and organs directly beneath the surface treated. Research has proven that the technique increases fibroblast activity to the area worked on. The patients experience immediate changes in stiffness, pain and mobility.
As the body is scraped, it pushes a build-up of fluid ahead of it, and after it passes, it leaves an indention or vacuum behind which draws toxic fluid out to the surface of the skin from deep within the tissue. Bruising is a common side of effect of Qua Sha.
Gua Sha is a completely safe technique, but it is serious medicine. Knowing when to use it and what to expect from treatment is as important as good technique. People who live with chronic pain often create emotional defenses to cope with it or can feel completely hopeless. Having that pain 'touched' and relieved can be unsettling, even shocking. It is good to be moderate in activity after treatment, even rest.
After Gua Sha, the patient is instructed to avoid wind and exposure to the sun or sudden change in temperature. Stretching is recommended but not a heavy workout on the day of treatment.
See the results of a small study done at Pain Medicine Journal.
Gua Sha is a completely safe technique, but it is serious medicine. Practitioners are required to be certified in the technique