What Can Gua Sha Massage Do For You?

In gua sha massage, your practitioner will apply oil to the area they’re working on and start stroking the skin with the smooth-edged tool. This creates small red and purple marks called petechiae.

Stroking a gua sha tool across the body promotes microcirculation, according to research. This could help reduce puffiness, alleviate pain and headaches, and ease symptoms of perimenopause.

1. Reduces puffiness

As a face and neck massage, gua sha is an excellent way to reduce undereye puffiness. It’s also a great tool for anyone looking to brighten their complexion as toxins are shifted from the skin surface and blood flow is improved, notes Tobia.

She recommends choosing a gua sha tool that has varying contours along each edge, so you can find the right angle to scrape different areas of your face. “This helps the tool glide easily without causing any ‘rug burn,’” she says. After cleansing your skin and applying a facial oil to help your preferred tool glide smoothly, Tobia advises a light pressure to begin with as you start with your jawline and cheekbones.

Then move to the center of your chin and scrape down to your earlobes. “From there, you can move to your cheeks and then down to the corner of your mouth,” she says. Finally, she suggests using the smaller end of your gua sha tool to go under your eyes. She adds that a few strokes around the nose can help relieve migraine pain as well, and one study found that gua sha alleviated Tourette’s syndrome symptoms in patients.

2. Relieves pain

In a study published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine, researchers found that gua sha reduced chronic neck pain and associated biomarkers of inflammation in subjects who received treatment with it. While more research is needed to understand the exact mechanism of action, some believe it works by releasing tension in muscles and decreasing inflammatory chemicals.

A gua sha practitioner palpates the skin to find areas that feel tight, and then scrapes them with a tool—like a ceramic Chinese soup spoon or a coin—using circular motions, or in a line of pressure across an area of the body (a technique called “linear strokes”). Some practitioners may also rub or tap at specific points on the body to help release energy blocks.

While the practice is not generally painful, gua sha can break the skin. This can cause a type of bruising, called petechiae, that range from light pink to red or purple and appear as small dots under the skin. Practitioners should gua sha massage sterilize their tools to prevent infection and avoid this type of bruising.

3. Reduces inflammation

Gua sha can help stimulate the flow of lymph in the body, removing excess fluids that cause puffiness. It can also promote blood circulation. This can help lower inflammation levels, according to research in autoimmune diseases and cancer.

While gua sha is safe for most people, it can cause mild bruising. That’s why skin care roller it’s important to find a qualified practitioner who uses the technique properly and with a suitable tool. Those with clotting disorders, bleeding issues or fragile skin shouldn’t receive the massage.

Gua sha should only be performed on a clean face and using a clean tool that is disinfected between applications. It’s best done by an acupuncturist who can assess your specific needs and ensure a safe treatment. There are some potential benefits of gua sha for migraines, Tourette’s syndrome, insomnia and more, though additional research is needed to support these claims. Some studies suggest that the treatment may boost the immune system by releasing white cells into the area and helping eliminate toxins. In addition, it could help treat respiratory infections by promoting lymphatic drainage.

4. Relieves headaches

While more research is needed, some anecdotal claims and limited clinical studies suggest gua sha could help relieve headaches. It’s particularly helpful for neck pain, according to one study. Another study found that a gua sha treatment reduced perimenopausal symptoms—such as hot flashes, sleep issues and mood changes—in women after eight weeks of use.

During a gua sha session, your practitioner will apply oil or balm to your skin and run the smooth-edged tool—which can be made of jade, metal, plastic, or stone — over the parts of your body where you’re experiencing discomfort, often in a circular motion. The scraping pressure can cause small bruises, called petechiae. The broken blood vessels in these areas release toxins and allow fresh blood to flow in the area.

If you’re considering gua sha, be sure to choose a certified acupuncturist or Chinese medicine practitioner to perform the treatment. This will ensure you’re receiving a safe and effective treatment. People with clotting disorders and those taking blood thinners should avoid the technique. It’s also not recommended for children or pregnant women.

5. Reduces stress

Traditionally, Chinese medicine practitioners and medical massage therapists perform gua sha, which is also called friction stroking. This process is believed to encourage a healthy flow of “qi” (life force energy) and blood by stimulating the petechiae. It’s often performed on the shoulders and neck, as it’s believed to relieve tension and anxiety. It’s also used to alleviate migraines, reduce perimenopausal symptoms, and ease hepatitis B symptoms.

Gua sha is also known to stimulate your lymphatic system, which acts like your body’s clean-up crew and is responsible for removing excess fluid, toxins and waste. If your lymphatic system is sluggish, it can lead to puffiness and a lackluster complexion.

The gentle scraping action of gua sha creates a mini trauma response, which triggers an increase in blood circulation. However, it’s important to avoid performing gua sha over lesions, cuts, large visible veins or infections, warns Dr. Ingegno. In addition, individuals with clotting disorders should steer clear. It’s also not recommended for pregnant women. But if you do want to try it, start by using the tool or stone on clean skin. Apply light to medium pressure and stop if the skin starts to redden.

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