Everything you need to know about Gua Sha massage

Gua Sha massage technique is an integral part of East Asian cultures and medicines. It primarily helps a masseur relieve you from tension and pain. There has been limited research about how or why Gua Sha massage is effective, but the results are quite prominent. 

The massage makes our body move energy from one part to another. It is also called Qi or Chi technique and needs a masseur to use a Gua Sha massage toolThe masseur rubs the tool on your body in long strokes and exerts enough pressure that creates minor bruising.

The massage technique breaks scar tissues and connective tissues and improves our joint health. The treatment doesn’t lead to serious side effects, but might not be the right form of massage type for everyone. It would be best if you asked your local GP before you opt for Gua Sha massage. He will examine your health condition and tell you if you should or shouldn’t try it.

What is Gua sha massage?

People usually have Guasha massage because they want to treat muscle pain. The practice involves a tool to exert pressure and scrape your skin to release tension. The action can cause mild bruising that results in red or purple spots called sha or petechiae.

The name Gua Sha means scraping in Chinese. It relates to skin scraping, coining, or spooning. Traditional Chinese medicine considers energy as Qi and Chi. Most people assume Qi to be the balance that flows freely and ensures good health and overall wellbeing.

According to traditional thinking, a blockage of Qi causes pain in joints and muscles. A Gua Sha scraping massage tool can remove the blockage and relieve you from stiffness and pain.

According to East Asian cultures, the body’s blood stasis or stagnation causes such pain and illness. One more focus of gua sha massage is to promote blood circulation and relieves symptoms of stagnation.

Many physiotherapists learn the craft of gua sha massage and deliver similar techniques through a service called Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM). The best Gua Sha tools help you apply the right level of pressure on the patient, compared to what bare hands can do.

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What are the Gua Sha massage benefits?

People turn to gua sha massage primarily because they want to alleviate muscle and joint pain. However, there are many more benefits of practicing this massage regularly. Find out all the health benefits below:

1. Heals hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is an infection that leads to inflammation of our liver. It causes liver damage, scarring, and can be dangerous.  As per research, gua sha massage can reduce the chronic liver condition.

As per a case study, a man with high liver enzymes led to signs of liver inflammation. The doctor tried gua sha massage on him.  After 48 hours of treatment, the level of his liver enzyme went down.

The research made practitioners believe that gua sha massage indeed helps reduce inflammation and prevents liver damage. However, they need more studies to ensure its accuracy.

2. Migraine headaches

Most migraine headaches don’t heal from over-the-counter medicines until a doctor prescribes them. If you confuse migraine with normal headache and generally take a medicine, it can harm you.

If you have consistent migraine issues, gua sha can help.  A study done on a 72-year-old woman who had a chronic headache was given gua sha massage regularly for two weeks. The condition improved during the time and suggested that this ancient healing massage technique can reduce headaches.

3. Breast engorgement

When breastfeeding women have excess breast milk in her body, the condition is called breast engorgement. It usually happens during the first few weeks post-delivery or if the mother is away from the baby during infancy. The breasts get swollen and painful; it can also become difficult for the baby to latch.

There was research done on a breastfeeding woman with Guasha massage. She took the massage from the second day after giving birth until the day she left the hospital.

As per reports, the woman had fewer signs of breast engorgement or fullness. It was easy for her to breastfeed as well.

4. Neck pain

Gua Sha massage is effective in treating chronic neck condition. There was a research done on 48 participants that proved the statement. The people were divided into two – one team received Gua sha massage, and the other received a thermal heating pad to cure neck pain. The 7-day test result showed that people who got Guasha had less pain compared to the other group.

5. Tourette syndrome

Tourette is a condition that forces our face to make facial tics, vocal outbursts, and throat clearing. It is a repetitive condition and affects a person’s day to day activities.

A study was done on a 33-year-old man with this syndrome. He was a victim of this condition since he was 9-years-old. With time, gua sha healed his condition, but he was actively taking medicated herbs, acupuncture, and led a good lifestyle. The condition improved by 70% the time he was 35 years old.

6. Perimenopausal syndrome

Perimenopause happens to older women who are moving close to their menopause cycle. The syndrome causes issues like insomnia, irregular periods, fatigue, anxiety, and hot flashes.

A study revealed that Gua Sha massage could potentially reduce the symptoms of perimenopause. The study includes 80 women who were facing perimenopausal symptoms. The intervention group received 15-minute gua sha treatment once every week for two months. The other group got conventional therapy for the same span of time.

The intervention group saw fewer chances of insomnia, fatigue, anxiety, headache, and hot flashes than the control group. The researchers agree it was the power of gua sha massage.

7.  Facial massage

Gua Sha massage face is much gentler compared to the regular scraping technique. It does involve scraping but is a much lighter way compared to gua sha for muscle stimulation. Facial and blood circulation with this massage helps you clear your complexion, fight early signs of aging, and relaxes tense muscles.

It would be best if you got Guasha massage on the face done by an expert skin clinic to make sure you’re sensitive skin is protected.

Why you need Gua Sha massage?

There can be a hundred body conditions due to which you need Gua sha massage. From curing a cold to dizziness, this therapy helps you in many ways. People tend to try this massage on their neck, chest, limbs, and back.

Now, if you massage yourself with tools, you need to scrape along both sides of the neck or from the seventh cervical vertebra along your anti sternum and then to the fifth lumbar vertebra. You can also scrape between the ribs – inside to outside but not back and forth.

Self-massaging with this technique will initially need practice and supervision. If you go wrong while trying Gua Sha massage, it can really hurt your body. You also need to know why you need this massage therapy and then figure out how to massage.

One important part about self-massage is to monitor the force you apply to your body. Many people think more pain means more effectiveness, but it might just end up hurting you more. For such misconceptions, people scrape heavily than they should.

You cannot massage yourself until you find the blood extravasate on your body. This is why it is best to allow an expert to do the massage for you, rather than trying it yourself.

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How to do Gua Sha massage?

Unlike a traditional massage or tantra massage that only needs your hands’ magic to work, Guasha needs the right kind of tools. Traditionally, people practiced this therapy with a spoon, a coin, or handheld tools with round edges.

Nowadays, you can buy specific tools from the market for Gua sha massage. The process needs you to apply pressure on the recipient’s body, and the tools help you do that. East Asian medicines include using bain stone, rose quartz, and jade. Nowadays, IASTM uses medical-grade stainless steel to offer Guasha.

The technique also needs oil to treat the area well and limit the pain. Oil helps you move the massage tool smoothly and massage effectively.

Experts in this technique know the right way to press the tool to apply firm strokes in the right direction. For example, if you want a massage on the back, you have to lie face down to allow the masseur to do his job right.

When you cooperate with the masseur, trying to release tension from your body, he can minimize your pain. Gua Sha massage indeed leaves you with bruises and pain, but it is temporary. The pain eventually reduces, and you get the actual benefits from the massage therapy.

Guasha massage techniques

1. Locate the stiff part of your body

Guasha massage is ideally performed on shoulders, back, hips, and back of your neck. You can do it anywhere you feel the pain, as long as it isn’t a sensitive area. For example, you cannot use it on your joints or along the spine. Rub the Guasha massage tool on your sore muscle with fingers and locate the exact muscle that feels pain.

2. Use oil or balm before scraping

Choose any oil like coconut, oil, or buy a pain-relieving balm and apply it to the stiff body part. Rub the balm on your skin till the area is sore, and the body feels moist. It will awaken your muscles for Guasha therapy.

3. Move the tool in one direction

Find the contours of the muscle as you continue to scrape the area and apply pressure. Rub in tiny inches like about 2-3 inches for 5 to 8 times and then move to another part.

4. Muscle will turn red

Keep scraping the muscle until you find it red. When you rub over sore muscles, the capillaries below the skin start to break. It creates the state known as petechia, and that pops up a red dot under your skin.

It is a normal part of this massage therapy and reduces within two days. The session will last around 10 minutes, depending on how many parts of your body are sore.

5. Take time to relax

After taking massage therapy, you need to refrain from strenuous activities. Don’t exercise or pick up heavy lifts on that day. The body part you a massage can feel sorer once you do it, but it tends to subside within a few days.

6. Clean the tool

After every massage session, you need to mandatorily clean the tool. There is a huge risk of Guasha massage tool spreading blood-borne pathogens. Everybody must have an individual tool. If you share it with someone, you need to disinfect the tool with an EPA-registered solution after usage.

There are chances that you cannot give yourself a Gua Sha massage as you can’t reach out to spots like the back or back of your arms. Ask a friend to help you do the Gua Sha massage or get an expert masseur who can trigger the right place in the right way.

Who shouldn’t do Gua Sha massage?

Unfortunately, Guasha’s massage isn’t for everybody. It stimulates our autonomic nerves, so people with sensitive nerve constitution can look pale, have cold sweat, or get a shock after doing this massage. 

People have to be careful while doing Gua sha because kids and the elderly have fragile skin. The masseur needs to know how to tenderly massage their skin and prevent any possibility of skin injury.

It is best not to try gua sha on older adults or people who have sensitive skin.

If you have any cardiovascular problems, allergic purpura, leukemia, cancer, thrombocytopenia, dermatitis, or scars on the skin, you must avoid massage.

Pregnant women or women during their menstrual cycle should also not try gua sha massage as well.

Side effects of Guasha massage

If you’re using the Gua sha technique as a natural remedy, it is safe. It is slightly painful and changes the appearance of your skin.

The process of scraping and rubbing with the massage tool might burst the tiny blood vessels on the surface of the skin. In some cases, Gua sha causes minor bleeding and bruising. However, the doctor or masseur will know how to treat or prevent such side effects.


Can Gua Sha help lose weight?

This is a common question every massage lover and fitness enthusiast asks. Yes, gua sha massage therapy can help you lose weight, but the masseur has to know the weight loss technique.

Gua sha requires a masseur to exert pressure in certain body parts with massage tools, and that differs according to your requirement. When your aim is to lose weight, the masseur will target areas that have excess fat. It can include your abdomen, thighs, hands, hips, and back.

Does Gua Sha help cellulite?

Yes, it does that too! If you’re looking forward to weight loss and cellulite reduction, this therapy can be perfect for you.

Gua sha massage cellulite works because it focuses on improving blood circulation beneath your skin. The process gradually reduces the appearance of cellulite and also reduces the possibility of inflammation.

What does muscle scraping do?

This is the most common way of using gua sha massage, but what does muscle scraping do?

Masseurs use a jade Guasha scraping massage tool to relieve muscle pain. The tool helps them break down your scar tissues and exert pressure on the skin to reduce tension.

Most people agree to go through the temporarily painful process of gua sha is because they know the impact. Efficient massage therapy can relieve you from months of chronic pain and revive mobility and good health.

Does Gua Sha actually work?

Just like any beauty treatment, there is a level of skepticism related to gua sha massage. Many people don’t understand why they should spend time rubbing a rock on their faces.

However, the studies show that Gua sha does work and offers the benefits you’d expect. Most results from this massage therapy are consistent, and using the tool does improve microcirculation and blood circulation.

People mostly practice this therapy to relieve muscle pain. The therapy aims to move energy around the body and exerts pressure to improve blood circulation. You might want to try Gua Sha massage for face, cellulitis, weight loss, back pain, and more.

Can Gua Sha massage cause bruise?

A masseur or doctor knows that they shouldn’t massage your body to a level that you get purple bruises on your skin. However, you will get bright red spots, and they will ache for a while. The bruise can take around 3 days to cure completely. This is one of the disadvantages of getting Guasha massage.

How long does Gua Sha bruising last?  

A masseur or doctor knows that they shouldn’t massage your body to a level that you get a purple bruise on your skin. However, you will get bright red spots, and they will ache for a while. The bruise can take around 3 days to completely cure. This is one of the disadvantages of getting a gua sha massage.

Is Gua Sha good for acne? 

Yes, Gua sha can tone and smooth your skin. It improves the texture of your face and reduces conditions like puffiness, breakouts, fine lines, and acne. Many women also try Guasha to prevent early signs of aging.

How do you disinfect Gua sha massage tools?

 Using either isopropyl alcohol or colloidal silver on the gua sha massage tools will protect it. The tools keep away from infection, and a masseur or doctor can reuse the same tools for different people.

Does Gua Sha work for wrinkles?

As you gently use the Gua sha face massage tool to scrape the skin, it stimulates the layers below your outer skin. The process improves micro-circulation, cures acne and blemishes. Repetitive treatment can reduce or prevent wrinkles and signs of aging. The massage therapy firms your skin and doesn’t let your skin sag.

Can you shower after Gua Sha?

You should avoid taking a shower for at least one hour after you have Gua Sha massage. You can only take a bath in warm water within 24 hours of the therapy. After 24 hours, you can take a cold water shower.

Final thoughts

When conventional therapies don’t improve our condition, doctors recommend a massage technique like Gua Sha. It is pretty simple and straightforward, but only a practitioner of Chinese medicine should do this.

When you want to try the massage, you need to research the clinic or specialist you consult. You must be sure about your safety and possible ways to prevent side effects.

Check the certification that confirms the basic knowledge of a practitioner. When you take the professional’s service, it assures effectiveness, right treatment, reduces chances of risk, and prevents bruising.

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