Gua Sha is a healing technique of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The practitioner scrapes the skin with short or long strokes to stimulate microcirculation of the soft tissue, which increases blood flow. These strokes are made with a smooth-edged instrument known as a Gua Sha massage tool.
Gua Sha is an instrument-assisted unidirectional “press-stroking” of a lubricated area of the body surface that intentionally creates transitory therapeutic petechiae.
Gua Sha may help to break down scar tissue and connective tissue, improving movement in the joints. The treatment is a supplementary therapy, and it´s always use in combination with other TCM modalities to treat acute or chronic pain in muscles, to reduce inflammation, and promote healing.
Also, Gua Sha is used to treat and prevent asthma, chest congestion, colds and flu and promotes the free flow of Qi and blood (other conditions that may benefit from Gua Sha are arthritis and fibromyalgia). Gua Sha is most often used to relieve muscle and joint pain.
Gua Sha does not have any serious side effects but is not suitable for those with certain medical conditions. Always consult with a professional!
Despite the looks, Gua Sha is not a painful therapy. The pressure or pull one may feel is much less than that of cupping. There is very little pain, if any felt but, may feel uncomfortable.
The procedure may temporarily change the appearance of your skin because it involves rubbing or scraping of the skin with a massage tool, tiny blood vessels known as capillaries near the surface of your skin can burst. Any marks left behind from treatment fade within 2-4 days. If longer than 4 days, and if the erythema (redness of the skin) is still visible or slow to fade, this would represent a poor blood circulation or a deficiency according to Traditional Chinese Medicine evaluation of signs and symptoms.
Reference: Gua sha: A Traditional Technique for Modern Practice by Arya Nielsen (Dec 26, 2012)