Gua sha massage, which is derived from traditional Chinese medicine TCM, involves rolling or scraping a “healing” (or smoothing) stone across the skin. Is this an alternative therapy worth considering? This article will tell you everything you need to know about gua sha massage.
What is the gua sha Massage?
Gua sha (pronounced gwah-shaw) massage is a practice derived from traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) involves the rolling or scraping of a “healing” (or smoothing) stone across the skin. Gua sha can also be called scraping or spooning.
It may have potential health benefits, such as reducing inflammation. However, there is not enough research to recommend gua sha for everyone.
Gua sha techniques: What is it?
Gua sha is believed to release stagnant energy from the body. In accordance with ancient Chinese medicine, gua sha practitioners believe that chi (aka vital life force or energy) may become blocked in certain areas of the body and lead to problems like inflammation, chronic pain, and disease.
A gua sha massage is where a technician scrapes your skin downwards to increase blood flow and stimulate soft tissue circulation.
These strokes will be made with a guasha massage tool. This is a flat-edged, almost-heart-shaped stone made of jade or amethyst. To aid in the process, they may use a little massage oil.
The practice is usually done on the back or butt, neck, arms or legs. Sometimes, the practice can be done on the head.
Is it worth it?
Similar to cupping but with less force, soometimes it can leave behind red marks and bruising. Your technician will work with you to achieve your desired outcome and your comfort level.
If you’d prefer a gentle, relaxing experience over a red-streaked back – no prob – just make your needs and .boundaries known.
Gua sha massage tools
Before stones and crystals were beloved by spiritual-wellness Instas, they were used in ancient healing practices. TCM practitioners believe that certain natural materials have an energy that aids in healing.
Jade is believed to be an ideal stone to use for gua sha. Practitioners believe that it has a similar chi energy to the human body, and may have balancing properties. Bian stone and rose quartz are also common gua-sha stones.
Technicians may use stainless steel that is medical-grade instead of using stone. Gua sha was also possible with a spoon or a coin in ancient times.
How about a facial massage with gua sha?
Gua sha can also be done on the “face”, but with a lighter hand than the rest of your bod. By gently stroking the gua sha stone over the skin (with the helpful glide of a face oil), practitioners believe the practice relaxes muscles, promotes blood circulation and drainage, and relieves puffiness.
Is there any legitimate gua sha benefit?
TBH, there isn’t much science to support gua sha’s effectiveness. Gua sha massage results, which are similar to crystals being used to prevent negative vibes and/or lose weight, are very anecdotal.
Keep in mind, however, that even if gua sha works via the placebo effect, it may still work for you. These are some of the findings from studies on the practice.
1. May reduce inflammation
Like other forms of massage, gua sha may promote blood circulation and reduce inflammation. This may make it a potential treatment for a number of ailments that cause chronic pain or disease, including fibromyalgia, arthritis, and .back pain. It’s worth considering, but the research isn’t conclusive.
2. Hepatis B symptoms may be treated
One case study was done in 2011 and found that gua sha massage could help reduce liver inflammation. Hepatis B is a viral infection that can cause inflammation, liver damage and scarring. Although the study was limited to one person and lasted for 48 hours, it could have been more. It’s a theory at this point.
3. May reduce headaches
In a 2007 case study, a 72-year-old woman with chronic headaches had gua sha massages for 2 weeks. Researchers believe the massage technique may have been beneficial for her improvement. We need to do more research to find out if gua sha really can ease the pain in everyone’s heads.
4. May help with muscle recovery
In a 2017 study of 65 male weightlifters, those who underwent gua sha felt like lifting weights took less effort post-treatment. Researchers concluded that gua sha could speed muscle recovery and may be an option to other types of sports training. Although more research is required, athletes may swap gua sha in exchange for all those ice baths.
5. May help reduce pain
An analysis of 60 computer users was done in 2014. Participants found that gua sha had an improvement in their movement and lessened neck and shoulder pain. A study of 48 patients suffering from neck pain in 2011 found that those who had received gua sha treatment had less pain than those who had been treated with heating pads.
If you are fed up with your tech neck you might want to try gua sha.
6. May ease breast engorgement
Many breastfeeding folks experience engorgement, an uncomfy and potentially painful condition where the breast become extremely full of milk. Researchers concluded that guashia was beneficial in relieving engorgement in a 2008 case study. She could then continue to nurse as normal. These results may not be valid for every woman. It makes sense, however, that any massage technique could help to express excess milk.
7. May help with symptoms of perimenopausal disorder
Perimenopause can lead to side effects such as insomnia, irregular periods and anxiety. Researchers found that women experiencing perimenopause experienced a significant reduction in symptoms after 8 weeks of gua sha therapy. This was in comparison to the 80 women who received traditional therapy.
Is there any side effect to gua sha?
Gua sha massage can be noninvasive but it is not painless. It involves scraping or rubbing the skin. This can cause mild bruising. Before you go to a gua sha session, make sure you discuss your comfort level.
Although gua sha must be very intense to puncture skin, bleeding can still occur. There is a risk of transmitting blood-borne disease if there is blood in the instrument. Technicians should wash their hands well. To ensure you go to a trusted practitioner, only go to a licensed acupuncturist or practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine.
You should also avoid gua sha massage is you:
- Take blood thinners
- Have a clotting disorder
- Have had surgery in the past 1,5 months
Gua sha is a massage technique that may help ease pain and inflammation by scraping the body with a stone tool. However, further research is required to verify that these benefits are real.
It is worth giving gua sha another try. Just make sure you visit a licensed acupuncturist or traditional Chinese medicine practitioner. If you are taking blood thinners or have had surgery within the last 6 weeks, you should skip gua sha.