TCM or Traditional Chinese Medicine has seen a steady rise in popularity in the past decade. Most of us have heard and are familiar with acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, and Chinese reflexology, but only a few have ever heard of a healing practice known as “gua sha.” This ancient technique sometimes referred to as “spooning” or “coining” in the West, involves the scraping of the skin surface in order to refresh and detoxify the body. While gua sha is still relatively unfamiliar in the West, it is widely used in Asia due to its facility, and the amazing and immediate results it provides.
According to TCM, muscle injuries and soreness are basically caused by blockages in the flow of qi (vital energy) and blood. Believing in this theory is not a prerequisite to learn that muscle pain or soreness can be alleviated when you rub the affected area of the body to increase the flow of blood in that area. That’s basically what gua sha is all about, the scraping of an ailing part of the body to relieve pain. Gua sha therapists will first tell you to take a sauna or a warm bath. After that, they then apply massage oils to your body and run a special scraping tool over the problem area. People who know how to administer the therapy on themselves usually use a spoon to scrape the problem area. According to TCM practitioners this helps release the qi, medical science sees that is an elimination of metabolic wastes that have accumulated over time in congested muscles and tissues. Some people consider the scraping technique as a more intense form of exfoliation. The process usually leaves red marks in the area that gradually vanish within a few days.
Gua sha therapy can be used for the following conditions:
1. PMS – As gua sha can help in the relief of muscle soreness, it can also be used to relieve monthly menstrual pains and discomforts. Your therapist can also apply the same principles used in reflexology to scrape various regions of your body to treat soreness in the lower part of your stomach.
2. Head colds – Most people have experienced upper respiratory illnesses at one time or another. One of the most ideal ways to treat head colds is to take a sauna or a hot bath followed by gua sha. To eliminate fluids that have accumulated in your chest and to unclog congestion, your therapist will run a scraping tool over your shoulders, neck, and upper back. This will help relieve your condition almost immediately!
3. Tired Muscles – People who regularly perform a hard work out are familiar with an ailment known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS which is usually felt the next day after workout. The dreaded DOMS is an almost unavoidable side effect of exercise, especially if you’ve been in a long break and you’re trying to get back in shape. To offset this problem, accompany an intense work out with lots of water, stretching, and a session of gua sha to eliminate the lactic acid that have built up in your body. This will give your body new space in which new muscles can grow and develop. For any type of muscle fatigue, stiffness, or soreness Gua sha is a great way to alleviate your condition.
Emily Farish Acupuncture
400 S. Jefferson, Suite 203
Spokane, WA 99204