WHAT IS GUA SHA?
Gua sha is a massage technique that uses a thick edged handheld spoon that scrapes and massages the muscles with the intention of releasing stagnation and improving blood flow. This motion raises small, red, rash-like dots that show under your skin called petechiae (pronounced puh-tee-kee-uh). This is a good sign that the tissue is detoxing and improving the circulation. We refer to this as ‘sha’.
We know that Gua Sha has become very popular recently as a facial rejuvination tool. This is NOT the way we are practicing gua sha here. The gua sha therapy here at Open Circle is a therapeutic application for some of the physical ailments listed below.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I NEED GUA SHA?
Conditions such as tight neck, shoulders, upper back, and arms tend to respond very well to gua sha. Migraine headaches, colds & flus, chronic tension headaches, tennis elbow & carpal tunnel also see excellent results. Like cupping, the color of the sha produced tells the practitioner a lot about the patient's condition. The darker the color of the blood rising to the surface, the more stagnation there is in that area. This tells us that there isn’t proper blood flow through the area.
WHAT DOES GUA SHA FEEL LIKE? DOES IT HURT?
Gua sha should not hurt. Scraping begins with light pressure and your practitioner should slowly increase the pressure of the scraping to achieve results without hurting the patient. It is a different sensation than you feel with massage, but significant relief can often be felt after treatments.
HOW MANY GUA SHA SESSIONS DO I NEED?
The number of gua sha sessions depends on the reaction that your body shows during the first treatment. If the marks are very light, you may only need between 1-3 sessions, whereas darker reactions can require more visits- perhaps between 5-10 sessions. We recommend spacing out treatments between 7-10 days apart.
HOW DOES GUA SHA WORK?
Research has shown that gua sha dramatically increases the circulation of blood through soft tissues under the skin. A Harvard study found that gua sha encourages cells to produce heme oxygenase -1 (HO-1), which is an antioxidant that fights to reduce inflammation in the body. The benefits of gua sha occur when the blood is brought to the surface of the skin. From the perspective of traditional Chinese medicine, many diseases and health complaints can be traced back to stagnant “qi” and blood in the body. By stimulating petechiae at specific points, gua sha is believed to encourage a healthy flow of energy and blood.
HOW IS GUA SHA DIFFERENT FROM CUPPING?
Cupping & gua sha are similar in many ways, but cupping can cover a large area quickly. Cupping creates a suction on the surface of the skin, which can assist with detoxification and creating more of a myofacial release of the tissues.
Gua Sha allows the practitioner to get into more specific or hard to reach areas that the cups would have a harder time reaching or staying on - areas like the neck, subocciptial muscles, forearms and sternum. Both achieve similar end results in that they are breaking up stagnation and allowing for more nutritious blood to circulate in the muscles and soft tissues.
WHAT DOES GUA SHA LOOK LIKE? We thought you’d never ask! Here are a few examples….
HOW MUCH DOES A GUA SHA THERAPY SESSION COST?
Gua sha is a 15 minute stand-alone treatment and costs $40. You can book these sessions with any of our therapists online or call us to set up an appointment. Hope to see you in the clinic soon!
Open Circle Acupuncture
411 W Main Street
Suite 2R (Rear of building)
Northborough, MA 01532
BY APPOINTMENT ONLY
Monday: 9:00 AM - 7:30 PM
Tuesday: 10:00 AM - 7:30 PM
Wednesday: 9:00 AM - 7:30 PM
Thursday: 10:00 AM - 7:30 PM
Friday: 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Saturday: POP UP CLINICS (tbd)
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