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Gua Sha Massage

GUA SHA, a traditional Chinese medical treatment Pronounced (GWA - SHAH). This treatment involves scraping the skin to form light bruises. It is thought that during this process, unhealthy elements are released from injured areas of the body and blood flow is stimulated to decrease pain and increase the healing process.

Perhaps what makes it appear so painful are the red marks left all over a person body post-procedure. These rash-like marks and bruises are known as petichia, which is simply stagnant blood that is trapped in the tissues. During an injury, blood flow is decreased to the injury site and both lactic acid and uric acid can get trapped underneath the skin, or within bound up muscle. Forcing that blood out of these tissue masses is what causes the petechia (bruise-like appearances) and promotes healing, thereby reducing pain.

It is most commonly used to treat back pain, muscle spasms, strains, sprains, muscle pains in the legs, muscle tension caused by arthritis, and foot problems (like plantar fasciitis). It can also be used to treat symptoms related to asthma and the common cold! The treatment does not hurt, per se, but can be uncomfortable depending on how sore your muscles are.

The rash tells all. Where the rash appears, how quickly or slowly it rises, and the color are all indicators and assessment tools.

  • A bright red rash indicates a lot of superficial heat.
  • A deep purple rash long standing stagnation.
  • The rash will literally flash up and start to lead the way guiding the treatment.
  • How quickly the rash disappears indicates how good the client’s healthy or lacking circulation.


As with any treatment there are some rules. Gua sha is NOT appropriate for: Children–Although many Asian cultures use it on children, as a general rule the American culture is not open to seeing red rashes on children.

  • Elderly or those with very fragile or brittle skin
  • Sunburns or other burns
  • Eczema or rashes, warts and other raised skin patterns
  • Over moles
  • Lesions or cuts
  • Bruises–including previous gua sha…if the rash from a prior treatment is still showing, we don’t gua sha over that area until the rash has disappeared.
  • Open wounds
  • Pregnant women’s abdomen or ‘forbidden’ points

Client consent–Because gua sha usually leaves a rash, the therapy should not be administered without client understanding and clear consent. Gua sha is not reapplied until after the sha rash or petechiae has vanished.