Gua sha is a Chinese medical therapy that is a gentle scraping technique. It involved using a smooth edge to apply repeated pressured strokes over lubricated skin. Massage oil is rubbed into the skin and then a smooth edge of a ceramic or metal tool is then placed down firmly and moved along the muscle, usually following the meridian pathways. This technique releases heat and toxins trapped in the skin and invigorates the blood flow to the area. Gua sha can be used to help patients with pain and is also helpful when a patient is working through a bad cold or similar illness.
Gua sha is similar to cupping but differs in some ways. Like cupping, gua sha can result in redness on the skin and can produce a feeling of release. The tools are different and the reasons we might chose the techniques vary. I tend to use cupping to help move stagnation but may choose gua sha when I think the condition is related to excess heat in the body.