Gua Sha is a healing technique used in Asia by practitioners of traditional medicine. Gua Sha means to rub or friction. Sha is the term used to describe congestion of blood at the surface of the body. When friction is applied in repeated even strokes, the sha surfaces as small red petechiae. In minutes the petechiae fade into echymotic patches. The sha disappears totally in two to four days. The color and rate of fading are both diagnostic and prognostic indicators. It involves palpation and cutaneous stimulation where the skin is pressured, in a stroking manner using round-edged instruments. The purpose of raising sha is to remove stagnation and promoting circulation.
The benefits of Gua Sha are numerous. It moves "stagnation," promoting normal circulation to the muscles, tissues, and organs directly beneath the surface treated. The patient experiences immediate changes in stiffness, pain and mobility. Normal metabolic processes are restored by the movement of fluids as nutrients are carried to the tissues and metabolic wastes are carried away. Because Gua Sha mimics sweating, it resolves fever. Gua Sha cools the patient who is overheated, warms the patient who is chilled, nourishes the patient who is deficient, and clears the patient who is excess. Gua Sha is therefore considered an adaptogenic technique.
We consider applying Gua Sha in any case of pain or discomfort, stiffness, for upper respiratory or digestive problems, and for any condition where palpation indicates there is sha. It is also an excellent technique which can be used for myofascial trigger points and taut musclebands.