IASTM Online Course

IASTM Online Course 2019

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Gua Sha - Chinese Medicine Scraping

Gua Sha Benefits, Tools, and Technique

Have you ever wished that you could scrape away your pain, those tight, achy muscles, that tension that doesn't seem to go away? Read on, and we'll tell you exactly what to do for that.

Gua Sha Body Technique

Gua Sha is an age-old body working technique that is designed to increase the blood circulation and flow to areas where there may be stagnation. The word Gua literally means in Chinese to scrape, and Sha deals with stagnation, either of blood or qi. When these energies becomes stagnant, it prevents the blood circulating into the areas which will heal the tissue, and the blood can also carry out waste products of tissue damage or muscle metabolism.

And the motion when you rubbing skin is literally you're to be going back and forth on the skin, again, generally working down. You may go up, but we want the emphasis to be down. And the amount of pressure that you're using is firm, but shouldn't be painful.

Again, going back and forth, and, the redness that we're getting over the area means forcing a blood flow circulation. You may see just one of these little petechia somewhere. If you go back and forth a little more then you can ge more redness and petechia. The more toxic an area, or the body is, the more of these little red dots that you're going to see. And, so, as you do the Gua Sha treatment, more and more you're going to get less of that, because the circulation is going to be better.

We could literally work on any part of the body. 30 seconds, a minute, two minutes -- we don't need to do too much more. The redness will dissipate, usually within a day or two, and so that's not so much of an issue, but it will increase the lymphatic flow. It will break down scar tissue. And, so, a lot of our muscles have scar tissue within them. If you feel a muscle and it's really hard, that's because scar tissue has infiltrated within the muscle, and the Gua Sha will definitely break that up.

Gua Sha Tools - Instruments for scraping

Classically, Gua Sha is used with a tool, and the type of tool that is used is something like porcelain spoon. Other tools are typically made of wood or bone or metal, and thery are used with curves to conform to the areas of the body. By scraping or rubbing back and forth, up and down in the body, we can release the toxins. Often what you'll end up with is a light bruising, not black and blue bruising, but red. Often, it's a little speckled. It's called petechia.

There can be a lot of different tools used.

This is one which can be purchased online.

It's made of water buffalo horn.

Another tool that's used commonly is something like this.

This is stainless steel. It's a very nice tool. The only problem with it -- the cost. It is about $70 for a tool specifically designed for this type of work.

However, if you need something simple you may use just a butter knife. Rather than buying something expensive, they can use the back end of a butter knife to do the scraping.

Tools could be made out of stone, jade, bian stone or rose quartz.

The reason we use different stones, is each stone seems to have its own spiritual properties, which is pretty neat and, so, when you use it, you can literally feel one or the other in your hand, and instinctively you'll be drawn to one more than the other.

And we find great success using these, either jade or bian or aquamarine stones.

Another tool that can be used is some ceramic, and so here we've got just a ceramic soup spoon that's used in Asian dishes, and it can be used to scrape the tissue.

Gua Sha Scraping with a ceramic spoon

Gua Sha Benefits

By using the tool to rub back and forth, going directly or primarily from the heart, we're able to increase the flow of the blood and relieve the chronic tightness, the muscle pain, as well as improve the body's immune system.

Gua Sha Oil

If you have a patient whose got some tightness on his shoulder area - you'll have to rub it.
And often what we'll do when we're doing a Gua Sha treatment, is we'll use an oil.

You may use some extravagant, like an Arnica oil. Classically, we can use olive oil. We can use coconut oil. Those are all good oils. Any natural, cold-pressed oil is going to be good.

Often people will use the oil as a carrier for an essential oil and, so, sometimes we'll use one of the essential oil blends. Choose the company that you like to use but use one that's good for the musculoskeletal, if that's what you're going after, or relaxing or stimulating, whatever your choice would be.

You don't need too much oil for gua sha. Just put a little bit on the skin. You really don't need to use too much.

How long should you scrape

The nice thing about this technique is you don't need to spend a whole lot of time. It's not like you're going to your massage therapist, and you're spending an hour or an hour-and-a-half.

After Gua Sha

When doing Gua Sha, you may want to take a day or two off between treatment sessions or areas that you're treating, just to allow the body to recover, and that often helps. Often it can be recommended to people to do it two or three times a week, and that seems to be sufficient. You could do Gua Sha on yourself or have someone do it for you, especially those hard to reach areas. Often it can be combined in the bath, if you've got Epsom salts, which will help relax the muscles, and working the back of the hamstrings with your Gua Sha tool.

Everybody can give this a try. It's not going to hurt. It could only help.

Cao Gio - Vietnamese Gua Sha

Cao Gio Coining - Scraping Practice

This is a video compilation of Vietnamese healing practice CAO GIO (means "scraping wind").
As a cultural medical practice Cao Gio scraping was imported to Vietnam from China far in the past and has been regarded as an effective treatment from cold and some other diseases which were believed to be a result of Wind - an exterenal pathogen factor. Go to the last short video in this article to see a short history of gua sha scraping.

There are different methods of cạo gió practiced.
  • Some practitioners use oil or balm and a coin to apply pressure strokes to the skin.
  • Other people use a boiled egg with a coin inserted in the middle instead of the yolk. The egg is wrapped in a piece of cloth and then rubbed over the different areas of skin. After the treatment, when the coin is removed, it will appear black.
cao gio coining

Cao Gio Demo by Vietnamese Monk

Cao Gio 3 Min Video in Home Setting

Cupping Therapy in Vietnam

Let's not forget that coining and cupping are all parts of one bigger practice to remove excessive Wind from the body.

While gua sha is sometimes may hurt (which is not necessary) cupping is a more gentle procedure.

Gua Sha All Over the World - Cao Gio, Kerokan, Khoud Lam

Cupping and Scraping [VIDEO]

Gua Sha on Neck and then Cupping

Demonstration of gua sha (chinese scraping) using a brass tool. Direction of strokes and pressure are explained.
Then application of a cupping therapy which enhances the gua sha effect.

First Experience of Cupping Therapy

Does Cupping Therapy Hurt?

Cupping therapy is simple and safe but at the same time quite effecient treatment
modality. Cupping therapy has been practiced for a few thousand years.

Probably, the simplicity of cupping technique and application has been a main contributor for the cupping underestimate and underuse in modern medicine.

During the early 20th century sophisticated medical apparatus and medications were invented and introduced to the mainstream medicinal use. Cupping was set aside.

The earliest written evidence of cupping was by the doctors of ancient Egypt and China. Cupping practice, however, was not limited to those cultures. All over the ancient world, many civilizations adopted cupping as part of their medicine and, later, integrated cupping practice as part of their mainstream medicine.

Does Cupping Therapy Hurt

The first experience of cupping - does it hurt [VIDEO]