Gua sha is a therapy, that involves scraping your skin with a massage tool to improve your circulation. It is a healing technique of traditional East Asian medicine sometimes called ‘coining, spooning or scraping’.
Gua sha is intended to address stagnant energy, called Chi - in the body, that may be responsible for inflammation.
Inflammation is the underlying cause of several conditions associated with chronic pain. Rubbing the skin’s surface is thought to help break up this energy, reduce inflammation, and promote healing.
Gua Sha produces an anti-inflammatory and immune protective effect, that persists for days following a single Gua Sha treatment. This is why it has been effectively on pain, stiffness, fever, chill, cough, wheeze, nausea and vomiting and many other health conditions and why Gua sha is effective in acute and chronic internal organ disorders as well.
It also helps break up fascia, the connective tissue that hugs muscles but can sometimes interfere with optimal circulation.
Researchers have carried out studies on the following groups of people to see if Gua Sha works:
women near menopause
people with neck and shoulder pain from computer use
male weightlifters, to help with recovery after training
older adults with back pain
A 2014 study found that Gua Sha improved the range of movement and reduced pain in people who used computers frequently compared with a control group that had no treatment.
In a 2017 study, weightlifters who had Gua Sha felt that lifting weights took less effort after treatment. This could suggest that the treatment speeds up muscle recovery.
Older adults with back pain were treated with either Gua Sha or a hot pack. Both treatments relieved symptoms equally well, but the effects of Gua Sha lasted longer.
After a week, those who had received Gua Sha treatment reported greater flexibility and less back pain than the other group.