Gua Sha (pronounced gua saw) is an ancient traditional Chinese healing technique. It provides instant pain relief while improving circulation and increasing energy or Qi (chee). Gua sha removes toxic heat, blood and lymph fluid from tissues deep within the body, which are responsible for making muscles stiff, irritating nerves and causing pain. These toxins are brought to the surface of the skin where they are eliminated by the body’s natural rejuvenation system.
Gua sha is an amazing method that helps restore optimal health. It provides drug-free relief of back, neck, leg and shoulder pain and many chronic conditions. Gua sha is done with a tool made of water buffalo horn that has been soaked in medicinal Chinese herbs. A gua sha session begins by rubbing gua sha oil on the area in need of attention. The oil has warming herbs to help lubricate and detoxify the skin. The tool is scraped or pushed along the body in long and short strokes. This motion, called gua, creates a vacuum that draws stagnant fluids (sha) to the skin’s surface from deep within the tissue.
The stroking results in the appearance of small red petechiae (sha) or multiple blood-red coloured, pinhead sized areas on the skin. This sha will fade in 2 to 3 days, sometimes taking on the appearance of a bruise-like patch as it disappears. After just a few strokes, sha can be seen as a red glow. A few strokes later, the sha may turn dark red to purple or even look like a raised rash. Even though it may look painful, sha rarely hurts, although it can be tender to touch for a few days.
Proper blood and Qi circulation are vital to good health. Chinese Medicine sees poor circulation as the main culprit to almost all ailments. When vital energy or blood cells are not in circulation, they form into pools of stagnant cells. Just like out cars cannot run without gasoline, our bodies cannot run without energy. The circulatory system transports oxygen and nutrients to our organs and tissues and carries away toxins and wastes. It also transports the disease fighting cells of the immune system that we need when we are sick or injured.
Poor circulation means poor health. If circulation is poor, our organs are malnourished. Stagnant or blocked Qi is caused whenever there is a constriction. An injury, illness, poor diet and lack of exercise all play major roles in creating stagnant Qi, but the biggest culprit is stress. When we are under stress, we literally constrict the muscles and slow down or even stop our flow of vital energy. When a water hose is kinked, water cannot flow freely. The same is true with our energy. Blocks in our blood and energy flow cause discomfort, pain and eventually disease. It is possible to have blockages that have been around for most of our lives.
Gua sha pulls the blocks and stagnation to the surface to be broken down and washed away. The body then rushes fresh oxygenated cells to the old injured areas increasing circulation and promoting health while providing instant and often permanent pain relief. A build-up of sha is associated with many acute and chronic diseases, you may feel aching, tenderness and/or knotted feelings in muscles. When normal finger pressure on a person’s skin causes balancing that is slow to fade, sha may be suspected.
Chinese Medicine views the body as a complete ecosystem working in harmony as a whole rather than many pieces working separately. When any part of the system is out of balance, it affects the entire body. Because Gua Sha restores circulation to all the organs and cells, it can help a broad range of problems such as: headaches, arthritis, neck pain, carpal tunnel, sinus pressure, poor concentration, lower back pain, shoulder pain and upper back pain.