Understanding Gua Sha

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Gua Sha

A key to unlocking your muscles.


Often when speaking about treatment options with a client, the mention of Gua Sha elicits the same puzzled look.  While Gua Sha may be well-known as a massage modality in China, here in the United States many people don’t know what it is.  The words Gua Sha translate to “scrape sand”.  Unlike the way it may sound, Gua Sha (when done properly) isn’t painful to receive.  

dreamstime_l_22667533 Gua sha is described 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.”  Basically, this means that a reddish bruising appears from the treatment which then fades away over a couple of days.  

So, how is Gua Sha done?  It’s actually quite a simple concept:  A smooth tool is rubbed in one direction over the lubricated skin to push stagnant blood or toxins through the layers of tissue for your body to absorb and is naturally disposed.  Historically a spoon was used, but more recently tools specifically designed to do Gua Sha are utilized.  

Gua Sha has been used for thousands of years and evidence of it has been found in the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece, India and Native American Tribes.  During these times it was used to help with chronic pain, cholera outbreaks, fevers, and many other diseases.

Gua Sha has been shown to be beneficial for:

  • Lingering pain
  • Muscle tension
  • Neck or back pain
  • Mobility issues (such as frozen shoulder)
  • Muscle soreness
  • Musculoskeletal injury
  • Intense training or exercise
  • Stress
  • Cold or respiratory infection

Although this treatment had been forgotten by modern medicine, it’s starting to make a comeback as an alternative to more invasive treatments.   Western scientists are now studying the effects of these practices and bringing these treatments back into the Western consciousness.  More recently, media outlets featured stories about many swimmers at the Olympics who had marks from cupping, a treatment modality which has similar principles.  

Your body is designed to heal itself when its been damaged. Gua Sha “tricks” your body ingua-sha-1to creating an inflammation response which helps with healing. For example, muscles that are really tight and contracted have less blood flow.  This restricted blood flow will cause muscles to become tired faster. The muscles build up lactic acid because the blood is unable move the toxins out of the muscle like it should. When these muscles and tissues contract and stagnate like this chronic pain is likely to occur.  

Gua Sha is designed to eliminate this stagnation.  Its job is to start the loosening up of the fascia (where the blood vessels are) and create the healing environment your body needs to get the blood flowing, the nutrients coming in, and the toxins moving out. The little red dots that occur is just the spark that your body needs to start the healing process. This is your body naturally taking away the old and bringing in the new, pain-free you.  

Book now or contact Laura Nehs, LMT at 608-203-8550 for more information and find out how Gua Sha can help you.  

30 minutes (perfect session length for working on a specific area only, i.e.: headache/migraine relief, a tight neck, or a low back discomfort): $45
60 minutes (good for those seeking 2-3 areas of focus, i.e.: neck/shoulder/back pain, lower back/hip tension, or more chronic issues like sciatica): $90

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