The translation of ‘Gua’ is to scrape or rub, and ‘Sha’ means a reddish or bruised patch of skin. The treatment consists of the therapist dragging or scraping smooth-edged tools over a lubricated area of skin, which results in raised red marks that fade over a period of 3-5 days (on average).
The results look intense, but the treatment is actually relatively mild. It’s also a relatively short treatment, depending on the amount of area that needs to be covered. The ‘scraping’, usually done in one direction, is like combing your tissue, and encourages circulation and mobilization between individual layers. The red spots, or ‘petechiae’, are caused by micro bleeds from the capillaries between the tissue, and are actually a positive result. The tearing occurs when the individual layers start to move independently of each other, causing a degree of shearing which can result in bleeding.
Gua sha is intended for the treatment of stagnation of blood and inflammatory or pathogenic factors, while increasing circulation and mobility in the subcutaneous and superficial muscle fascia. Basically, it’s a quick and effective way to get everything moving, and a great way to warm up tissue to get to the specific issues. It can be performed as a treatment unto itself, or integrated as part of your normal massage session.
by Teresa Noye, RMT