Guasha is believed to promote a healthier flow of energy. The wisdom and apparent effectiveness that is found in these Eastern healing arts are appealing as an alternative to an often over-medicated culture. Guasha and other treatments may help alleviate pain in less invasive ways than other solutions. They may also be reasonable alternatives before considering surgical correction.
The procedure is done with light strokes from a smooth implement. Objects such as a smooth coin, ceramic soup spoon, and jade have been used in the past but the most common tool today is a rounded metal cap. Before rubbing the body with the implement, the therapist will lubricate your skin with oil.
While a guasha treatment can feel uncomfortable, many people have experienced much pain relief from it.
Areas that are most-often treated include the:
All of the muscles of the body are encased in the fascia, a thin membrane. This membrane may become tight or constricted due to various conditions, not the least of which is injury or chronic pain.
Guasha is one way to help restore circulation to the fascia and break up tension and tightness. “Gua” means “to scrape,” and “sha” refers to the red rash that is a result of this scraping. According to Chinese practitioners, this friction breaks up adhesions in the tissues and releases stagnant “winds” or qi, releasing blockages in meridians that can be causing pain or soreness in the body.
Physiologically, guasha increases blood circulation within the tissues. For this reason, it can be used for any conditions that may be caused by poor circulation of blood (e.g. inflammation).
Who does guasha help?
It is believed that this procedure allows for unhealthy energy from the affected area to leave the body and stimulates blood flow and healing.
- General pain
- Skin issues
- Strains and sprains
- Muscle spasms
Guasha works by increasing the blood flow to different areas of the body. It is believed that this releases the body’s natural pain-fighting systems and blocks the pain pathways creating a relief. This increased blood flow, known as microcirculation, has been scientifically proven to occur in the areas treated with the gua sha technique.
Either the literature nor the current national standards sufficiently address safety standards for gua sha. However, it is thought that gua sha should also be avoided in areas with bruising, or superficial skin lesions such as burns and open sores, and in areas overlying bony prominences such as the spine. This treatment is also contraindicated in the genitalia.
There are a few additional patients who should avoid guasha, including:
- Pregnant women
- Those taking blood thinners
- Anyone with a bleeding disorder
- Because of the discomfort of the procedure, children should not receive it.
All solid foods and drinks except for water should be avoided for 2-3 hours beforehand
Alcohol and recreational drugs for 24 hours before and afterward
Wear comfortable clothing, layers are best and remove tight or restrictive jewelry beforehand
Drink plenty of water post-treatment to aid in the detox process
The massage follows the same principles incorporated in Chinese medicine regarding Chi (energy) within the body, that energy should be flowing freely but due to an unbalanced lifestyle and stress, Chi becomes blocked or congested manifesting itself in illness if not corrected.
The key to the success of this treatment is to ensure that the relationship client and therapist is strong and trusting.