Friday, August 3, 2007

Gua Sha

Gua sha is an age old healing technique that some think of as 'folk' medicine. While typically preformed by an Acupuncturist or Asian Bodywork Therapist, this technique can be easily done at home with a family member.

Gua means to scrape and Sha is the reddish rash you will see in the pictures. Yes, it looks like torture but I assure you, it does not feel bad.

This technique is used when there is a restricted blood flow in an area. Most gua sha is done to the back, neck, shoulders and glutes. Typically there is pain in the area that has sha present. If you press your fingers into an area, quickly releasing them and white marks remain, sha is present. It can also be used to treat colds, flu and other internal conditions.

To do gua sha you will need a few tools. A lubricant (ex. Vick's vapor rub or a thick oil like peanut oil), a round edged tool (ex. coin, metal jar lid, spoon or a tool sold specifically for gua sha) and a towel.

Have your 'client' sit or lie comfortably. All muscles that will be scraped should be relaxed. Rub your lubricant on the skin and with the tool at a 30 degree's angle, make downward strokes. Use a comfortable pressure. Communication between both persons is essential. Stop if any pain arises. Continue with one area until the sha appears then move to the next area. If no rash appears, sha is not present.

When finished, wipe off access oil with towel and tell 'client' to keep the area covered. Many people feel immediate results so then need to be warned to still take it easy for the next day or so. Gua sha also should not be done to open skin, burns or serious injuries where there could be a bone break. For those interested in learning more, I will provide a link to a very good book on the subject at the end of the post.

The redness will fade sometimes within 24 hours but at the most 2-3 days. The longer it sticks around is an indication of poor blood circulation in the area.


It is hard to see properly but you will notice white finger marks near the left scapula, showing signs of sha being present.

This pictures shows the first line of scraping, bring sha to the surface then moving on.

Continuing to gua sha the back.


The back is complete. This client came for treatment related to chronic pain in the neck, shoulders and upper back.


Click here for information on Gua Sha. Arya Nielsen wrote a great book called "Gua Sha - a Traditional Technique for Modern Practice"

To purchase tools for gua sha, Lhasa OMS Medical Supplies has many varieties for sale.

Disclaimer: This article is for information purposes only. It is always best to seek a qualified medical professional. :)

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