Gua Sha Is More Common than I Realized

Recently, a friend of mine told me that he was getting good pain relief from gua sha. He hadn’t heard of it before, but a friend of his had mentioned that he should try it. Any time a friend of mine tells me about a method of pain relief that I haven’t heard of before, I want to learn more about it. So, here’s more about gua sha and why it’s more common than I realized.

Gua Sha

gua sha

Thanks to for the image.

Gua sha is a component of Chinese medicine. Its main point is to move chi, or energy, around the body. (As you may remember, we have already learned about acupuncture, which is another component of Chinese medicine and a way to balance chi.)

Essentially, the word  gua sha translates into English as “scraping.” When you receive a gua sha treatment, the practitioner uses a tool to apply firm strokes along your muscles. Frequently, the tools are made of bone or other natural sources of hard material, so they don’t have any give or pliability. This muscle work can sometimes feel very intense, and it may even bruise the body.

Reasons for Treatment

There are several reasons why you might seek gua sha treatment, but most of them are related to muscular issues. According to, you some reasons to try gua sha include:

  • muscle pain,
  • joint pain,
  • back pain,
  • tendon strain,
  • carpal tunnel syndrome,
  • to reduce inflammation,
  • improve your immune system,
  • break-up scar tissue, and
  • to reduce perimenopausal symptoms.

Finding a Practitioner Near You

As I researched this topic, what surprised me most was that I’m receiving the Western version of this treatment! When I go to physical therapy, my PT practices a version of instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) to help my neck move and feel better.

Because of this, you don’t need to find a practitioner of Chinese medicine per se to receive the benefits of gua sha. Instead, you can contact your local physical therapy offices and ask if they practice IASTM.

However, if you are determined to have someone actually trained in gua sha work on you, here is a list of practitioners. I imagine this is not the entire list of trained individuals, but it’s a good place to start.

Have you tried gua sha before? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below. Feel free to mention any excellent practitioners.

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About Sarah Stockett

Hi, I'm Sarah! I'm a certified Pilates and yoga instructor with a passion for pain relief. I believe you can use simple exercises to relieve your aches + pains. AND, I believe I can teach you how.