An Introduction To Gua Sha Massage

An Introduction To Gua Sha Massage

lady receiving gua sha treatment on her face

In recent years, Gua Sha has been growing steadily in popularity. Perform a quick search on Instagram, and you will find hundreds of images showing smooth, pore-less skin. Everyone, from influencers to beauty or health enthusiasts are keen to share their experience with Gua Sha. Coupled with pretty polished stone tools, and you have a photo-centric treatment.

In the midst of this frenzy of interest, it is natural that Gua Sha has become misunderstood. Often portrayed purely as a beauty treatment, Gua Sha actually has roots as a health treatment. It was in the midst of such health treatments that the beauty benefits of Gua Sha were realised. In this article, we will be exploring the many different benefits of Gua Sha and the details of the treatment.

What is Gua Sha?

Gua Sha is a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) technique that has existed for many years. In translating the term, we find that “Gua” means to scrape while “Sha” means sand. As such, the treatment typically incorporates the use of a flat jade or rose quartz stone to stroke and scrap your skin.

Gua Sha Massage Tools

gua sha massage tools set on pink surface

In the past, primitive Gua Sha tools included that of a spoon, coin or any other solid smooth objects. This is why in certain circles, Gua Sha is also known as “coining” or “spooning”. Since then, innovations have come to Gua Sha massage tools.

Modern day Gua Sha tools refer to the aforementioned jade or rose quartz stones. To assist the user with applying these stones, handles and roller mechanisms can also be added to the stones. It should be noted that each type of stone has its own effects when applied to the skin. For example:

  • Jade brings about balancing effects, cool skin, de-puff skin and clear inflammation
  • Rose quartz is favoured for use on the neck and chest, providing benefits to the heart
  • Amethyst is best used in the evenings and winter
  • Citrine is in contrast favoured for mornings and summer

Gua Sha Techniques

Before applying Gua Sha massage tools to your skin, two prior steps need to be taken.

Firstly, the crystal, gem or stone needs to first be cleansed. Due to repeated prior usage, there would have been a build-up of negative energies. To rid the tool of the negative energy, you will need to wash it and leave it outside overnight during a full moon.

Secondly, since Gua Sha tools should not be used on bare skin, a layer of water or oil needs to be applied to the skin. In general, oil is favoured and allows for the tool to travel across your skin smoothly.

Now, the smooth-edged instrument can be applied to your skin. A combination of short and long strokes is used in a downward motion. Smooth and firm strokes will be continued to be applied in this one direction.

Effects of Gua Sha

gua sha strokes on shoulder

It is important to note here that Gua Sha is a practice under the umbrella of TCM. As such, it takes many of its underlying beliefs and values from the foundational texts of TCM. When Gua Sha is applied by a qualified TCM practitioner, it helps to improve the flow of qi.

Qi refers to the life energy that flows in everyone’s body. Without qi, or when there is an area of your body that is deprived of it, illness or ailments emerge. As a result, blood stagnation, aches, stiffness, tension and body pain emerge.

Through using external force from the Gua Sha massage tools, blockages of qi can be removed. In this way, energy can be delivered to all parts of the body, while toxins can be removed. After which, your skin is left looking more supple, glowing and healthy. In essence, the strokes produce controlled trauma, allowing for the skin to make light repairs by making new collagen.

Uses & Benefits of Gua Sha

relaxing gua sha treatment by practitioner

Since Gua Sha reduces inflammation, it is a versatile treatment used to treat ailments of all kinds. Depending on the type of stone used and the techniques utilised, different ailments can be treated. While scientific studies on the Gua Sha are limited, here are several ailments that some studies have shown to work:

  • Helping to revive individuals that have collapsed from heatstroke
  • Seasonal diseases like a cold
  • Migraine headaches
  • Chronic neck pain
  • Tourette syndrome
  • Chronic back pain
  • Tendon strain
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Perimenopausal syndrome

These are in addition to the common use of Gua Sha for improving the general health of your skin. Other than which, Gua Sha is often used to improve the immune system, reduce inflammation and treat fevers.

Side Effects

For starters, Gua Sha is intended to be a completely safe, natural and non-invasive healing remedy. It is not supposed to be painful while only a little bleeding might occur. The bleeding occurs as tiny blood vessels known as capillaries lie near the surface of your skin. When rubbing and scraping your skin with the tools, these capillaries are susceptible to bursting. Should this occur, minor skin bruising also emerges but will likely disappear within a couple of days.

Given these side effects, there are conditions that may make you unsuitable for Gua Sha. This would include:

  • Having medical conditions that affect your skin or veins
  • Capillaries that bleed easily
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Had surgery within the past 6 weeks
  • Have an implant such as a pacemaker

Your first few experiences with Gua Sha should be handled by an experienced practitioner. This will ensure that you are suitable for Gua Sha, while also enabling you to pick up valuable tips for home treatment. We have seen how novices attempting DIY Gua Sha massages end up with bruised skin yet none of the promised benefits.

Book Your Next Gua Sha Session with Kung Fu Wellness

Kung Fu Wellness is a modern, family-friendly Gua Sha Singapore massage parlour. We seek to boost your physical and mental health by offering the best TCM massage Singapore services. Within our facility, we also offer acupuncture, cupping and gua sha treatments suitable for all.

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