What is Gua Sha?

Gua sha is a technique practiced in many traditional cultures. In Chinese, gua sha translates literally to “sand scraping”. Any type of curved object may be used, whether it is a tool designed specifically for gua sha, or a spoon, a small metal lid, a coin, or any other object that has the curve the practitioner wants. A lubricant such as lotion or oil is spread over the skin that is to be scraped to protect the surface of the skin from abrasion, and the curved implement is then scraped over the skin with some degree of pressure. The greater the pressure used, the more intense the sensations will be during the treatment.


Like cupping, gua sha often leaves marks on the skin. Marks left by gua sha may resemble bruising, but should disappear faster than a bruise and should not cause pain. Your results will be unique—you may leave your treatment with an area of skin that varies in color from pale red to dark purple. The color and intensity of the marks indicate to your practitioner how long you have had the condition being treated, and other information such as your relative excess or deficient status. You can speed the disappearance of these marks by making sure you drink extra water on the day of your treatment!


Gua sha is commonly used to treat muscular soreness or tension. An area of tightness or tension can be directly treated. It can also be used to prevent or treat a cold: if you get that stiff neck that means you’re about to get sick, see your acupuncturist and they may gua sha the back of your neck to release the pathogen and relieve the discomfort.


Think carefully about receiving gua sha if you plan to wear clothing such as a backless dress or bathing suit that will expose the marks soon after your treatment, simply due to their sometimes unsightly nature. Family or friends might ask you about your marks—let them know they are part of a treatment that helped relieve pain, create relaxation, and improved mobility.


I offer half hour gua sha sessions at my clinic. Book one today!