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Gua Sha (Muscle Scraping/Blading) Explained

Updated: Jan 6, 2022

Gua sha is a natural, alternative therapy that involves scraping along the muscle on the skin surface with a specially designed massage tool to help improve your circulation. This ancient Chinese healing technique is a unique approach to better health, addressing issues like chronic pain.

In gua sha, your therapist scrapes over the skin with short or long strokes that stimulate microcirculation of the soft tissue, which increases blood flow.

Gua sha is intended to address stagnation in the blood and energy, called chi, in the body that practitioners believe to be responsible for inflammation. Inflammation is the underlying cause of several conditions associated with chronic pain. Rubbing the skin’s surface is thought to help break up this energy, reduce inflammation, and promote healing.

Gua sha is generally performed on a person’s back, buttocks, neck, arms, and legs. A gentler version of it is even used on the head and face as a facial technique. Your technician will apply mild pressure, and gradually increase the intensity to determine the level of force required or you can handle.

Gua sha reduces inflammation, so it’s often used to treat ailments that cause chronic pain, such as arthritis and fibromyalgia, as well as fascia trigger points, tight muscles, and joint pain.

Gua sha may also relieve symptoms of other conditions:

Migraine headaches, neck, and back pain, perimenopausal syndrome symptoms are largely reduced with gua sha.

As a natural healing remedy, gua sha is safe. It’s not supposed to be painful, but the procedure may change the appearance of your skin. Because it involves rubbing or scraping the skin with a massage tool, tiny blood vessels known as capillaries near the surface of your skin can burst. This can result in skin bruising and minor bleeding called petechiae. Bruising usually disappears within a couple of days. Some bodies do bruise more than others.

Avoid this technique if you’ve had any surgery in the last six weeks.

People who are taking blood thinners or have clotting disorders aren’t good candidates for gua sha.

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