What Is Gua Sha?
Gua sha is a traditional Chinese medicine modality where you take an object such as a spoon, animal horn or an object with a smooth edge that you could use to scrape the skin to get relief for pain, colds, flu, lung issues or sore throat.
Sounds kind of weird and when I first heard of this in Chinese medicine school I thought it seemed weird too. How could this affect the body by scraping the skin? I was wrong, not weird at all! While in school, my stress level was very high due to the demanding class load which caused a lot of muscle tension around my neck, shoulders and upper back. Since we were practicing on each other in class, I finally had a class mate perform Gua Sha on the affected areas. After 5 minutes of scraping on my back, my skin started to turn a red/purple color (called Sha). This apparently was normal so don’t worry, the purple color on your skin will only last a few days. What happened after that five minutes was pretty amazing, my back felt better. The tension was much less and I felt like my range of motion in my neck was better as well. I was amazed!
how does it help with pain?
Usually with pain, there is a stagnation of Qi and blood in the affected area. So, by scraping, this is helping move that blood that is stuck in the area which releases the pain. Blood stagnation usually has a sharp stabbing feeling. Also, the lactic and uric acid gets stuck in the tight muscles and Gua Sha will help release the acids to allow the tightness to lessen and the soreness to go away.
additional benefits & details
Gua Sha is not only great for muscle pain and tension but it works wonders for high fevers, sore throats, flu, and colds. The idea behind Gua Sha for these issues are that when you scrape the upper back you are affecting the lung points – BL 13 and DU 14 which are the best points to release heat when dealing with colds and flu. By scraping near these points you are able to help release the heat by opening up the pores on the skin. Most people I have treated with sore throats feel almost an immediate difference and it feels great when you’re sick.
By the way, if you are planning on going to a party or getting married and wearing a strapless dress, you may want to wait on Gua Sha or cupping till afterwards due to the possible reddish or purple color it may leave for a few days.