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Gua Sha is a healing technique originally used in China by practitioners of Traditional Medicine. Gua Sha is the basis for a scientifically confirmed and studied updated version called Graston, often used by Physical Therapy practices.
Gua Sha involves the massage therapist performing an assessment to determine if this technique is appropriate for treating the area. The treatment may include palpation then cutaneous stimulation where the skin is pressured, in strokes, by a round-edged instrument. Small areas of redness called “sha” appear that will typically fade in 2 to 3 days. The practice of Gua Sha, also referred to as “Raising Sha” removes blood stagnation considered pathogenic, promoting normal circulation and metabolic processes. A light, stroking pressure is applied repeatedly over the same area which tends to result in a warm sensation. Sometimes, the client will notice immediate results or results may be felt gradually over a period of days.
Cupping therapy is an ancient form of therapy in which a local suction is created on the skin; practitioners believe this mobilizes blood flow in order to promote healing. Suction is created using heat or mechanical devices.
Through either heat or suction, the skin is gently drawn upwards by creating a vacuum in a cup over the target area of the skin. The cup stays in place for a few minutes. It is used to help treat pain, deep scar tissues in the muscles and connective tissue, muscle knots, and swelling.
Cupping involves placing plastic or rubber jars on the skin and creating a vacuum by suctioning out the air. The purpose of cupping is to enhance circulation, help relieve pain and pull out the toxins that linger in your body’s tissues.
You usually will feel a tight sensation in the area of the cup. Often, this sensation can be relaxing and soothing and has a positive effective on the nervous system. Depending on your comfort, cups may be moved around or left in place. They may remain on your body briefly or for longer amounts of time. One very common area to be cupped is the back, although cups work well on other areas, too — particularly on fleshy sections of the body.
If you are unsure about participating in a Gua Sha or Cupping session, please consult your medical provider to determine if there are any contraindications for your specific circumstances.