What are Gua Sha and Cupping?
Gua Sha and Cupping are two much misunderstood traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) techniques.
Gua sha means to “raise a rash.” It involves irritating or scratching the skin surface over an injured area. Tools from stones to metal or plastic are scraped along the skin.
TCM theory follows that using this technique, we can tease out and bring to the surface, congestion that lies beneath. Dark markings and slight bruising can occur at the sight of the gua sha, but usually clear up within a week. Biomedically, we are distracting the body from it’s injury, allowing the injured area to lessen in inflammation and encourage the healing process. Results can be felt immediately after gua sha is performed. Most patients notice an improvement in range of motion and relaxation in the affected area.
When done gently, gua sha can be done on the face to clear up sinus congestion and promote collagen and elastin regeneration. At PK Acupuncture & Wellness, we employ this technique in our facial rejuvenation acupuncture sessions.
Cupping, involves moving congestion through suction. Flames are placed in cups to create the vacuum and then placed on the desired area. In TCM, the cups pull “old” and “stagnant” blood to the skin’s surface for clearing, allowing new and healthy blood to flow through muscles and organs, allowing them to heal. Biomedically, these cups work great for sports injuries, as they help to separate muscle and fascia, allowing “knots” to be worked out. Cupping can also leave hickey marks on cupped areas as well.
At our clinic, we usually employ these two techniques together. Despite the marks left behind, most people find these techniques very relaxing.