Scrape Away Your Pain!
Gua Sha (pronounced Gwa Shaw) is an age-old bodywork technique that can be used for many conditions from improving immunity, your daily aches and pains or headaches to chronic severe ailments. It is used to intentionally lightly bruise the skin by using a scraping technique in order to help detoxify the body and relieve pain. It releases built up waste and stimulates blood flow and healing.The word "Gua" means to scrape, and "Sha" refers to stagnant blood and qi (energy) that is inhibiting proper flow of energy and blood or in other words, the fluids that contain metabolic waste that is congested in the tissues and muscles. "Sha" also refers to the petechia (reddish, minute hemorrhages that look like a red colored speckled rash) that can surface to the skin after the Gua Sha treatment.
During this treatment a flat piece of wood, bone, or stone (called a gua sha) is used to move the lymph, release lactic acid from the muscles, break up scar tissue, and to release congestion and stagnation along the energy lines of the body. The edge of this gua sha is rubbed along the skin, always working from feet to heart and hands to heart. It can cause bruising from the release of toxins from the skin. The bruising/redness will subside as your tissues get stronger.
Scrape out and break down connective tissue adhesions that restrict joint and muscle mobility as well as increasing circulation and lymphatic flow. Scrape repetitively back and forth, up and down.
You don't have to go to an expensive body worker to get the benefits of gua sha. I highly recommend getting or making your own gua sha tool and adding this self-care ritual to your daily or weekly practice. You can purchase one made from wood made by Dr. Christensen or improvise with a spoon, back end of a butter knife, jar lid or ceramic soupspoon.
Begin by noticing where your muscles feel tense or knotty. A sign of stagnation is a blanched area after pushing down on tissue that is slow to pink back up. Use your gua sha tool to scape along the tense area of your body, always moving primarily in the direction of the heart. This will facilitate the lymph moving in the right direction. Repetitive back & forth or up & down movements are normal when working an area of injury or pain. Use a lubricating oil such as coconut, olive or arnica. It makes the process more comfortable. Essential oils may be used as well. Create sufficient friction to raise the toxins that flood to the skin's surface and facilitate the actual removal of disease in the body. Start slowly, but don't be shy. It may feel intense at first but you will actually enjoy it after a while.
Use your gua sha in the shower or bath. While taking a warm detox bath with either epsom salts or apple cider vinegar, run the gua sha up and down your legs in strong, vigorous strokes. Many tend to get stagnation in the back of the thighs so work those areas really well. Work the back of your neck and shoulders, moving down toward the heart. Focus on areas of injury or pain, scraping back and forth. You may need to take a day or two off between vigorous gua sha sessions. Gua sha is especially effect for areas of chronic injury or pain.
Enlist the help of a friend to work areas that you can't reach. Many folks find great relief from having gua sha done on the back, either along the sides of the spine or running the gua sha along the muscles themselves.Don't be alarmed if you see significant bruising (not black and blue but bright red). This is a sign that there is a lot of toxins to be removed. It will heal in a couple of days. Stick with it, slowly. It will move.
Gua Sha Tools