Gua sha is a technique used in traditional East Asian medicine. It is often used to treat muscle pain and tension for athletic recovery. It is also known as scraping, spooning or coining.
Gua sha aims to move energy, known as qi or chi, around the body. The treatment involves using a tool to rub the skin in long strokes, applying enough pressure to create minor bruising.
Gua sha may help to break down scar tissue and connective tissue, improving movement in the joints. The treatment does not have any serious side effects but is not suitable for those with certain medical conditions.
Gua sha is the practice of using a tool to apply pressure and scrape the skin to relieve pain and tension. This action causes light bruising, which often appears as purple or red spots known as petechiae or sha.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, qi or chi is energy that flows through the body. Many people believe that a person's qi must be balanced and flowing freely to ensure their health and well being.
People also believe that qi can become blocked, causing pain or tension in the muscles and joints. GuaSha aims to move this blocked energy to relieve aches or stiffness.
Traditional East Asian medicine also views blood stasis or stagnation as a cause of pain and illness. Another aim of GuaSha is to move pooled or stagnated blood to relieve symptoms. Some physiotherapists use a version of the technique known as instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM). Using a tool instead of the hands during a massage allows a physiotherapist to apply more pressure.
GuaSha causes tiny blood vessels near the surface of the skin called capillaries to burst. This creates the distinctive red or purple bruises, known as sha.
The bruises usually take a few days or a week to heal and can be tender while healing.
GuaSha is not suitable for everybody. People who should not have GuaSha include those:
• who have medical conditions affecting the skin or veins
• who bleed easily
• who take medication to thin their blood
• who have deep vein thrombosis
• who have an infection, tumor, or wound that has not healed fully
• who have an implant, such as a pacemaker or internal defibrillator
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