As well as offering both the full Rolfing 10 Series and Rolfing work outside the Series I also practice a number of other therapies including Trigger Point Needling and Visceral Manipulation. Gua Sha is a Chinese therapy I have used for over 15 years on many hundreds of people. The results have been almost universally positive and sometimes life changing. I have developed my own version and tentative explanation of the therapy in contrast to the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) explanation which while valid within that paradigm relies on a more subjective interpretation of bodily processes than most Westerners are comfortable with.
For more information go to How does Gua Sha Work?
What is Gua Sha?
Gua Sha is an East Asian healing technique which provides rapid pain relief for a variety of conditions whether acute or chronic. It is extremely effective in treating musculo-skeletal problems and fibro-myalgia. Traditionally it has also been used to treat dis-orders such as the common cold, bronchitis and asthma.
The technique appears to be at least two thousand years old but is probably far older. It may well have been one of the first medical treatments invented by humans. In Vietnam the technique is known as Cao Gio, in Laos as Khoud Lam and in Indonesia as Kerokan or Kirik.
What Are The Benefits Of Gua Sha?
In most instances clients will experience an immediate improvement in their condition particularly in their level of pain but also in terms of formerly restricted movement and stiffness. Usually 3 or 4 treatments are required to completely eliminate the Sha from an area. As the testimonial below succinctly puts it;
Gua Sha is quite simply the best therapy I’ve ever come across and I’ve tried most of them.
This simple technique has given me the longest lasting pain relief I’ve had for the chronic neck pain I’ve suffered for the last ten years. I felt immediate benefit from my first treatment. While the Gua Sha marks are initially a little surprising they aren’t actually painful after the treatment finishes and always disappear within a few days. A little temporary skin discoloration is a small price to pay for such quick and incredible relief from pain.
I continue to receive treatment when necessary – I love Gua Sha.
M. Boughton – Cremorne, Sydney.
How Is Gua Sha Applied?
In Cantonese Gua Sha literally means scraping sand which is a useful analogy for the feel of a treatment but Sha also has connotations of bad or evil. In terms of the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) paradigm badness/disease is being scraped out of the tissue.
Gua Sha is traditionally done with a Chinese ceramic soupspoon or, as in Vietnam, with a shaped piece of buffalo horn but in fact any instrument with a smooth, relatively blunt but hard edge can be used. Using an oil or cream for lubrication the edge of the instrument is stroked firmly across the skin traditionally along an acupuncture meridian but in fact the stroking can be in any direction. Generally I employ the strokes in the same direction as the fibres of the underlying muscle.
In tissue that has accumulated ‘Sha’ the pressured strokes will cause a rash or petechiae to appear under the skin. These marks are only temporary usually taking 2 to 4 days to disappear but are essential to the efficacy of the treatment since they provoke the body into an intense healing response probably the prime reason for Gua Shas effectiveness. The ‘Sha marks will only appear in constricted and usually already painful areas of the body – they do not appear when healthy tissue is subjected to Gua Sha.
Repeated Gua Sha treatments will result in less and less ‘Sha’ marks or ‘colour’ appearing under the skin. Eventually no ‘colour’ at all will appear.
Is Gua Sha Safe?
Gua Sha is a completely safe treatment and is used as a ‘folk’ remedy by many millions of people demonstrating that it can be and is safely used without any specialized training. The pressure applied in a Gua Sha treatment is light to moderate and considerably less than is used in strong massage. Because the instrument used has a blunt edge there is never any breakage of the skins surface and the ‘Sha’ marks are always sub-cutaneous – consequently there is no risk of infection via the skin.
What Does Gua Sha Feel Like And Is It Painful?
The sensation of a Gua Sha treatment differs from person to person and also from treatment to treatment. The feeling ranges from pleasant to uncomfortable to somewhat painful, depending on the severity and history of the problem. However whatever pain is experienced is caused not by the instrument being used but by the sharp edges of the crystals as they contact the surrounding tissue. Used on healthy tissue Gua Sha feels like a pleasant massage.
The Sha marks themselves while they look painful in fact are not. They are not bruises in the usual sense since they have not been created by an impact but by a relatively moderate stroking of the skin. The moment the stroking ceases, so too does any momentary pain, and a feeling of release and relief is usually experienced.
Gua Sha Treatment
I usually combine a Gua Sha treatment with myo-fascial therapy.
These sessions can be 60mins ($90) or 75-80mins ($120) in length.
A Gua Sha session by itself takes about 40mins ($60).