Gua sha, is a simple and safe technique used to restore energy flow in areas of the body blocked by the invasion of external pathogens. It is a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practice ultilizing a smooth-edged tool to stroke your skin while they press on it. This motion raises small, red/purple dots that show under your skin called petechiae.
Practitioners believe that gua sha recirculates stagnant, unhealthy bodily matter from blood stasis within sore, tired, stiff, or injured muscle areas to stimulate new oxygenated blood flow to the areas, thus promoting metabolic cell repair, regeneration, healing, and recovery. We often refer to the use of gua sha on the upper back and neck “relieving/releasing the exterior”, that the mechanism of the scraping opens pores and restores the circulation of our Wei Qi.
Gua sha, the literal translation being “to scrape petechia” which refers to the sand-like bruising after the treatment, spread from China to Vietnam, where it became very popular. It is known as “cạo gió”, which roughly means “to scrape wind”, as in Vietnamese culture “catching a cold” or fever is often referred to as rúng gió, “to catch wind”.
Gua sha, a related technique to Cupping, is sometimes referred to as “scraping”, “spooning” or “coining” by English speakers.
Common Side Effects of Gua Sha
Bruising and small raised blood spots (ecchymosis) are common side effects following cupping and/or gua sha as the force of suction and/or scraping may break small blood vessels below the surface of the skin (capillaries) as well as drawing stagnant, trapped blood within muscle layers. The bruising is temporary and part of the healing process that stimulates new circulation in the surrounding tissues.
Interested in trying it out yourself? Book a Cupping & Gua Sha session today!
Jaay (Jade) Kulhawy-Bartlett, R.Ac. offers Cupping & Gua Sha WEDNESDAYS and FRIDAYS 3:00-7:00pm