Gua Sha Treatment

Is Gua Sha Right for You?

Gua Sha is amazing at relieving muscle pain, tension, or restriction. It’s an absolute game-changer for anyone working a desk-job, mechanics, hairstylists or people who “reach forward” for a lot of the day.

It’s great for those with:

  • Tight, stiff necks with limited range-of-motion
  • Text Neck
  • Tension Headaches
  • Carpal Tunnel
  • Shoulder pain
  • Tennis + Pickleball Elbow
  • Knee or ankle pain
  • Achilles or calf pain
  • Scar Tissue
Let's Work Together

How Does it Work?

We use a flat stone or metal tool to ‘scrape’ the skin. The edges of the tool are smooth and we apply oil to the body prior to scraping. As we move over the tight, overlapping layers of muscles, tendons and fascia, the scraping helps to release the tension, break up knots and increase blood flow to the area to help it heal and repair. The red “dots”, “hickey” or “rash” like marks that appear are actually called “petechia” which are tiny, broken capillaries that heal within a few days. The more redness that appears, the more healing there is to be done!

In Chinese Medicine, when areas of the body are injured, stuck, or not moving, it creates a blockage or stagnation of Qi and Blood that can result in pain (like a traffic jam). The gua sha acts like traffic conductors, removing the blockages and getting your highways moving and flowing again. Our blood contains so many of our healing and immune-boosting properties and if it’s not flowing like it should be, our health suffers and can result in pain or disease.

Gua sha may look strange or painful to those unfamiliar with it but most of those who have done it come back begging for more because of the massive, immediate relief it provides. I’ll be honest, there are certain spots (like the front of the neck) that are more sensitive than others but most will agree that the few seconds of pain is SO worth the post-gua sha pleasure. We love seeing the surprise on people’s faces when they’re actually able to use the full-range-of-motion of their neck again. If it’s too sensitive you can always let us know and we can use lighter pressure or move to a different spot. Communication is key so always let us know if it’s too uncomfortable.

What's an Average Session Like?

Gua Sha can be performed as a stand-alone treatment or added on to acupuncture and cupping. We apply oil to the area being treated (neck, traps, forearm, shin, calves are most common) and begin to “scrape” with a smooth, flat stone. In areas where there is a lot of stagnation or knots, tiny red dots start to appear. The session takes approximately 5-15 minutes depending on what areas we are working on.

Afterwards, it’s common to have red “hickey” marks in the area that we worked on (especially the neck). This generally disappears within a few days and is a sign of the body healing and releasing tension in the area. Gua sha can provide instant relief and most people are amazed at how much better they can turn their neck, it’s my go-to tool for neck pain! Sometimes the area can be tender to the touch or a little sore the day of and after treatment similar to how you’re sometimes sore after a deep tissue massage.

An average gua sha session

Frequently Asked Questions

Here’s some Frequently Asked Questions that will answer most of yours!

Some areas are definitely more sensitive than others. It is not the most relaxing treatment we offer but it is one of the best for providing instant relief. In this case, I’ll quote my football coach father and say “no pain, no gain”.

You can apply arnica or cbd to the area treated to help promote healing and decrease the redness. Avoid taking pain-killers or reducers like Advil, ibuprofen or Tylenol if you can help it because they actually slow and prevent the body from healing naturally. If the area is tender you can apply a heating pad on low (not ice! ice slows down healing time too).

It’s best to keep the area covered especially on windy or cold days. The area is more sensitive and we want to keep it protected from the elements. It’s also best to take it easy for the rest of the day to let the body continue to heal. We also recommend avoiding strenuous workouts or stressful activities as too much activity too soon may reduce its benefits. It’s also best to avoid alcohol which can thin the blood and create more inflammation.

If you bleed easily, are taking blood-thinning medications, or have medical conditions that affect your skin or blood vessels, it’s probably best you sit this one out. Talk to Kacie about your condition to see if it’s right for you!

Aside from the 4,000-5,000 years of use in Asian cultures, there are a few studies that have been performed.

One study of 48 patients with neck pain in Kliniken Essen-Mitte, Academic Teaching Hospital of the University Duisburg-Essen, Germany found that those in the gua sha group found that their neck pain decreased significantly when compared to the control group (which utilized a heating pad for pain relief).

Another study wanted to examine the claim that gua sha increased microcirculation. Increasing circulation in the body can help on a number of levels, including in reduction of inflammation and pain. Researchers at the Beth Israel Medical Center’s Continuum Center for Health and Healing found a fourfold increase in microcirculation shortly after gua sha treatment was administered, a result that was significantly more pronounced in female study participants. This same study also found that there was a pain-relieving mechanism to the treatment, but researchers were unable to identify it.

Yet another meta-analysis of studies looking at gua sha found five randomized controlled trials and two controlled clinical trials that presented scientifically valid conclusions. The analysis focused on musculoskeletal pain and identified three possible pain-relieving mechanisms:

  • Increase in microcirculation
  • Stimulation of serotonergic, noradrenergic, and opioid systems to relieve pain
  • Interference with the nociceptors, pain sensors, that then minimizes pain

Walking through the desert

Your Journey to Health and Wellness Starts Here

Call us at (949) 478-0103, text us at (949) 200-8820 or fill out the form below to send us an email.