About Gua Sha

What is Gua Sha?

Gua sha is a healing technique of traditional East Asian medicine. Sometimes called ‘coining, spooning or scraping’, Gua sha is defined as instrument-assisted unidirectional press-stroking of a lubricated area of the body surface to intentionally create transitory therapeutic petechiae called ‘sha’ representing extravasation of blood in the subcutis.

Modern research shows Gua sha produces an anti-inflammatory and immune protective effect that persists for days following a single Gua sha treatment.

This accounts for its effect on pain, stiffness, fever, chill, cough, wheeze, nausea and vomiting etc., and why Gua sha is effective in acute and chronic internal organ disorders including liver inflammation in hepatitis.

The technique is useful in any licensed therapeutic practice and of particular interest to acupuncturists, massage therapists, physical therapists, physicians and nurses who work directly with patients.

The overall effect of Gua sha is to bring movement and flow to areas because of tension caused by improper posture or injury. With any tension or pain, clients often limit their mobility and therefore blood stagnants. Once blood flow and proper movement are returned to these areas, pain is lessened and mobility is increased.

Gua Sha uses a special tool (sometimes made of stone, animal horn, porcelain or commonly stainless steel as it is more hygenic), which is dragged over the skin until ‘sha’ or redness is achieved. The resulting redness is called “sha”. And it’s colour indicates that the muscular tension and lack of blood flow which has been causing pain or tension has been released.

The main function of Gua Sha are:

  • To dredge the channels. Gua Sha stretches tissues along the planar boundary of the muscle. In doing so, chemical and mechanical signals are kickstarted within the connective tissue matrix, triggering a healing response in the muscle.
  • To vent heat. Gua sha causes an increase in blood flow to an area which conducts heat out of the body. This excess heat may be caused by inflammation or increased metabolic activity. As excess heat stress in the body may reduce cerebral blood velocity, the reduction of heat may help to calm the mind and decrease issues associated with inflammation.
  • To release to the Exterior. Gua sha mimics sweating in the body. It can prevent the onset of illnesses like the common cold or speed the recovery of an existing cold or flu.
  • To Resolve Blood Stagnation. Blood stagnation happens when there is an inhibition or constriction of movement in a muscle, causing blood flow and return to become sluggish.

Gua Sha helps to reduce vasoconstriction from tight muscles, expunging the ‘stuck’ blood from the area and flushing it with fresh, oxygenated blood to help repair and rejuvenate the muscle tissue.

On top of this, Gua Sha is deeply relaxing and many patients report deep and restful sleep after their Gua Sha treatments.

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