Gua Sha therapy is a practice that can be traced back to ancient Traditional Chinese Medicine. The name Gua Sha can be roughly translated in two parts, Gua meaning scraping and Sha meaning sand, a reference to the red spots that appear on the skin after the treatment. This name might make Gua Sha sound unpleasant but the process is actually incredibly relaxing. Unlike many other beauty fads, Gua Sha has remained popular over hundreds of years.
History: What is Gua Sha Therapy?
In modern times Gua Sha is mostly known as a facial skincare treatment, but it has historically been used as a treatment all over the body. The practice stems from the idea of Chi, a lifeforce running through the body that is central to many parts of Chinese Traditional Medicine. Gua Sha was designed to help promote the circulation of Chi through the body, alongside other flows like the circulation of blood and air. Practitioners of Chinese medicine believe that blockages of Chi and blood flow can cause pain and illness in the body. Gua Sha helps relieve these blockages by breaking them down and promoting proper circulation to the sites of pain.
Unlike many other alternative therapies, the efficacy of Gua Sha has actually been supported by modern medical science. The process of applying strokes of pressure to areas of muscular tension is commonplace in the practice of modern physiotherapy and myofascial release. In particular Gua Sha has striking similarities to the practice of soft tissue mobilization that is commonplace in physical therapy.
So why did Gua Sha become popular recently? The rise of social media has brought with it a number of skincare influencers eager to share the techniques that work for them. At some point Gua Sha entered the field of conversation and a combination of simplicity, low cost, and proven results propelled the ancient tool into modern popularity.
Unlike the countless creams and serums that get promoted daily on social media Gua Sha tools were relatively affordable and only needed to be purchased once. Gua Sha tools were also some of the only products on the market that sought to improve skin health from deep within. More than anything though, Gua Sha was deeply relaxing. In a market that revolved so much around self-care Gua Sha was bound to be a success.
How Does It Work?
So what is Gua Sha therapy exactly? Some descriptions make it sound painful or unpleasant but nothing could be further from the truth. Although Gua Sha works by applying pressure and friction to the muscles and skin it feels more like a massage than a medical procedure. Quality Gua Sha tools are made out of polished stone like jade of rose quartz. The skin is prepared by applying a cream or serum, creating a smooth surface for the Gua Sha to effortlessly glide over.
The resulting effect is like a combination between a deep tissue massage and cold therapy. The thin long edge of the Gua Sha tool applies pressure in a way that is firm but comfortable, breaking down tension in the skin and relieving pain quickly. The stone surface remains cold throughout use, creating a sensation that feels good and helps to firm up the skin. It is both deeply relaxing and effective as part of a skincare routine.
Can I Do It Myself?
The best part of Gua Sha therapy is that it can be performed on one’s own self. There’s no need to pay for high-priced spa treatments or ask for the assistance of a partner or roommate. It is ideal for anyone trying to incorporate self-care into their daily routines. Gua Sha has a gentle learning curve, easy enough to start practicing right away but also rewarding the user with benefits that come from repeated practice. If you want to learn more about how to use Gua Sha tools, our guide has everything you need to know.
Gua Sha therapy is a practice that dates back to Chinese Traditional Medicine but is more relevant than ever in the modern era. It has a number of documented benefits and is simple to learn. If you want to keep learning more about Gua Sha check our page for weekly updates. We will continue to publish high quality content about Gua Sha and the ways it can help improve your life.