The past few years has seen a steady rise in popularity of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). You’ve probably know Chinese reflexology and acupuncture, but one healing practice you may never have heard of is called “gua sha.” Sometimes called “coining” or “spooning” by Westerners, the process involves scraping the surface of the skin in order to detoxify and refresh the body. Although still relatively unknown in the West, gua sha is quite popular in Asia since it’s so easy, and the results are so quick and amazing.
Traditional Chinese Medicine believes that muscle soreness and other injuries are essentially blockages of both blood and qi. Whether you believe in the concept of qi or not, it’s no mystery that when you suffer from muscle soreness, rubbing the area to increase blood flow will help relieve the pain. That’s the basic idea. Gua sha starts with a warm bath or sauna, and then, after applying massage oils, your masseuse will run a special scraping tool over the affected area (or, for home, use a simple spoon). The Chinese say this unblocks qi, and medical science explains this as an expulsion of metabolic waste built up in congested tissue and muscles. The scraping works like an extreme form of exfoliation, and will leave behind marks and redness – but don’t worry, these will fade within a few days of the treatment.
So what exactly can Chinese gua sha help you with?
1) Tired Muscles
Anyone who’s had a hard work out knows the dreaded feeling that sets in the next day – DOMS – or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. Especially when trying to get back in to shape after a long break, the dreaded DOMS is a nearly inevitable by product of exercise. To counteract this extreme muscle soreness, follow a tough work out with plenty of stretching, water, and a session of gua sha – rid your body of all that lactic acid, and make room for new muscle to build! Gua sha is great for any kind of muscle soreness, stiffness, or fatigue.
2) Head colds
Upper respiratory illnesses afflict us all at one time or another – usually in the cold of winter – so what better way to treat a cold than with a hot bath or sauna followed by gua sha? Your masseuse will run the scraping tool over your upper back, neck and shoulders to relieve congestion and expel fluids built up in your chest – and you’ll experience the relief almost immediately afterwards!
Since gua sha is such an ideal treatment for sore muscles, it’s also ideal for those monthly menstrual aches and pains. By following the principles of reflexology, your masseuse will scrape different parts of the body to relieve soreness in your lower abdomen.
To try the practice for yourself, contact your local acupuncturist, or, buy a simple gua sha tool or use a spoon and try it for yourself at home.