Gua sha meaning “scraping sha-bruises“, is a traditional Chinese medical treatment in which the skin is scraped to produce light bruising. Gua sha releases unhealthy elements from injured areas and stimulates blood flow and healing. Gua sha is sometimes referred to as “spooning” or “coining” by English speakers. It is often used for muscle pain or spasms, as well as for respiratory problems, such as coughing or congestion. In addition, gentle techniques are used for cosmetic purposes to smooth out wrinkles and fine lines and improve circulation.
Gua sha involves repeated pressured strokes over lubricated skin with a smooth edged instrument. Skin is typically lubricated with massage oil and commonly a ceramic Chinese soup spoon is used. The smooth edge is placed against the oiled skin surface, pressed down firmly, and then moved down the muscles—hence the term tribo-effleurage (i.e., friction-stroking)—or along the pathway of the acupuncture meridians, along the surface of the skin, with each stroke being about 4–6 inches long.
Cupping therapy gained a lot of popularity and curiosity after the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, when Michael Phelps and other athletes were competing with cupping marks on their bodies. 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 (fire) or mechanical devices (hand or electrical pumps).
Cupping treats a broad range of medical conditions such as blood disorders (anaemia, haemophilia), rheumatic diseases (arthritic joint and muscular conditions), fertility and gynecological disorders, skin problems (eczema, acne, spider veins), and helps our general physical and psychological well-being.