Gua sha, or scraping therapy, is a traditional healing modality that alleviates pain, muscle tension, and restricted movement. This simple technique is becoming more well-known in medical communities as its benefits are rediscovered and appreciated.
Gua sha uses a round edged tool to firmly stroke areas of tension, breaking up areas of congestion in the muscles and tendons. It effectively treats headaches, neck aches, persistent tension in the shoulders, back, and hips, and even plantar fasciitis. Gua sha can break up and soften scar tissue making the scarred areas less painful and more functional.
Gua sha is great for focusing on chronic muscle knots, especially stubborn ones that just seem to snap back into tension even after massage therapy.
Expect some colorful results on the treated areas. Gua sha draws out a temporary discoloration, which is the superficial vessels flushing out the stagnated blood and fluids. This discoloration goes away in a few days as normal circulation clears out the area and brings fresh blood flow. This is not the same thing as a bruise since the tissues are not injured but are releasing toxins, fluids and heat to the surface.
This research study shows that Gua sha increases microcirculation at the surface of the body for healing purposes, and is not causing bruising or tissue damage.
I have personally seen and experienced wonderful results with Gua sha in my massage and acupuncture practice. Clients often feel immediate relief from stubborn pain and tension and it can play an important role in injury recovery.