Gua sha is a massage technique that has been used throughout Asia for centuries. It is also considered a form of alternative medicine. The definition for Gua sha is broken down into: gua meaning rub and sha meaning blood stagnation in the skin surface. This type of massage can be used for pain in the underlying tissue, headaches, stretching fascia, illness, and more.
Gua sha can be used with a variety of tools. Some examples are Chinese soup spoons, buffalo horns, jade tools, jar lids, etc. When it is practiced, the massage needs to be done with even strokes. Gua sha can be used with regular relaxing massage or with physical therapy. This can help with breaking up scar tissue from post-ops, loosen frozen joints, etc. Below is a picture of the areas to properly apply Gua sha.
Indications and Contraindications:
There are indications and contraindications to Gua sha. Some of the contraindications consist of sunburn, rash, abdominal pregnancy, blood deficiency, pimples, moles, etc. This type of massage is good for stagnant blood to promote circulation in tissue, muscles, and organs. Some other benefits are that it decreases stiffness and pain, and increases mobility.
What to expect:
When using Gua sha, I first lubricate beyond the area I’m going to work, and then I select the appropriate tool. Press down firmly with the tool, moving down with the muscle fibers, while keeping the tool at a 30° angle. I make sure to communicate with my client throughout the session about how they are feeling. There may be some minor discomfort during the process, but it should not be painful. I’ll continue scraping the area until the color stops changing. The color should go away three to five days after treatment. The treatment can mimic a fever afterwards so you want to make sure to keep the area covered for a couple of days. The client should feel an improvement right away.
Below is an example of what it looks like after this massage. Look for a video in the future of how to do Gua sha!
At Flex Physical Therapy, we have two highly qualified licensed massage therapists to take care of you. They specialize in the types of massage designed to help you heal, relax, and live a life with less pain. Call 1-800-930-8803 to schedule your massage!