In a bit of a scrape? Gua sha involves gently scraping the skin with a smooth-edged tool to improve blood flow. It’s a detoxifying treatment designed to reduce pain and stiffness and improve mobility – well, they do say no pain no gain…
At the beginning of the session the skin is covered with a massage oil that acts as a lubricant. The therapist then presses the muscles to locate areas of tension. When these areas have been identified, the gua sha tool (a smooth-edged tool often made from animal bone, horn or jade) is placed against the skin, pressed down firmly and moved along in strokes. The friction of the strokes brings toxins to the surface, allowing the body to slowly remove them from the system.
In areas of muscular stiffness the skin is likely to develop red or purple blemishes after gua sha. No need to worry, this will disappear in 2-4 days and it’s not too painful thanks to the oils – phew!
Gua sha can be effective at treating fever and the common cold, in addition to helping ease headaches and migraines. It can also help with poor circulation and emotional stress.
It’s best for pregnant women to avoid gua sha as there could be a risk of fainting. It is also inadvisable for people to undergo the treatment if they are drunk, very hungry or tired – so make sure you’ve had a good dinner and a bit of a nap first.
‘Gua Sha’ is a Chinese term that translates as ‘to scrape away fever’. Scraping therapy has been practised by the Chinese for hundreds of years.
Although there are special gua sha tools available, the technique can also be performed using a spoon or a coin.