“In my opinion based on years of practice, I believe Gua Sha is an energetic technique.” — Leta Herman
We hope you enjoy this fun time-lapse we like to call “The Fascia and the Furious” video of a simple Gua Sha treatment. (This treatment in “real time” took about 15 minutes.)
Many people ask me about the science behind how Gua Sha works. What does Gua Sha actually do? What causes the red marks?
The science behind Gua Sha is fascinating. And remember from an earlier post I wrote… Gua Sha should not hurt!
If you missed that post, you can read about it here!
According to a study conducted in 2012, “The Effects of Scraping Therapy on Local Temperature and Blood Perfusion Volume in Healthy Subjects” (http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2012/490292/), Gua Sha “is a positive stimulation on the skin.”
According to the article, Gua Sha improves the metabolism of the tissues in the scraped area as well as adjacent areas and reduces tension in the blood vessels and nerves.
Gua sha can also reverse obstruction to microcirculation. That means if something is blocking the oxygen and nutrients from getting to the tissue in that area, then Gua Sha can free it up!
Microcirculation also removes carbon dioxide from the tissues. Or we could say…”Good stuff in: bad stuff out.” I’ve always said it removes the toxic energy that is stuck in that area.
It also activates specific functions of the body, such as increasing the temperature of the area to promote healing.
Another article by Arya Nielson, called “The Science of Gua Sha” (http://www.pacificcollege.edu/news/press-releases/2015/05/05/science-gua-sha) discusses studies that show a 400% increase of the circulation of blood on the surface, which is called microperfusion. Nielson maintains that not only can Gua Sha relieve pain in the areas where it is applied, but it can have a positive effect on much more serious illnesses, such as hepatitis.
In my opinion based on years of practice, I believe Gua Sha is an energetic technique. With a light, scooping technique, stuck energy is lifted out of the fascia. As that qi (chi) begins to move, the blood is stimulated and comes to the surface, causing a flush of both blood and qi moving to the surface. This is a cleansing of the area that’s been very stuck and stagnant. This is why the red dots only come out on areas that are energetically stuck. You can do Gua Sha on areas of the body that aren’t stuck and no Sha comes out, even after many minutes of repeated strokes. Whereas, on the same person, only a few strokes on the painful area produces “sha” immediately. Therefore, the areas where the redness appears are stuck, and the areas where redness does not appear are not stuck. And the fact that you barely need to scrape at all (even feather-light pressure on a stuck area, produces the “sha”) is a mystery that requires a lot of big scientific words to try to explain!
So far, I haven’t found any studies that address the phenomenon of sha only coming out of the stuck areas. However, it seems like a key factor in why Gua Sha is so powerful!
Some key words explained:
The articles use some key medical terms to describe what happens when you do Gua Sha. Here are some of the terms:
Hyperaemia (pronounced hyper-ee-mia) is the increase of blood flow to different tissues in the body. This occurs subcutaneously (under the skin).
Ecchymosis (pronounced eck-i-mo-sis) is a discoloration of the skin resulting from bleeding underneath.
Perfusion is the process of a body delivering blood to a capillary bed in tissue. It is important to have adequate perfusion in the body, and there are tests to find out how well your body delivers blood to the capillaries.
Microcirculation is the circulation of the blood in the smallest blood vessels. Microcirculation delivers oxygen and nutrients and removes the carbon dioxide. It also regulates blood flow and tissue perfusion. This then positively affects blood pressure and reduces inflammation as well as swelling.