Cupping and Gua Sha are techniques that can be incorporated into your regular bodywork session or scheduled as a separate 30 minute service. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the cause of pain, stiffness and tension is often due to blockages in the meridians (energy pathways) of the body. Cupping and Gua Sha (and Shiatsu!) all focus on clearing these blockages for an easy flow of Qi and Blood, which can help with chronic/acute pain, headaches and migraines due to muscular tension, and even reduce the severity and recovery time from colds and fevers.
Cupping can be done in a variety of ways using glass, plastic or bamboo cups. Suction is created with fire or a manual pump. I use plastic cups and a manual pump. The cups are placed on the area of discomfort and related areas. The cups can be moved, called slide cupping or left in place.
Gua Sha is a scraping technique. A variety of tools can also be used for this including: wood, stone, bone. Techniques are usually used on the area of discomfort and related areas. I use a small wooden hand tool.
What does it look like and how will it feel?
After the cups are removed, you may have round marks that vary in color from light pink to dark purple. The color indicated the amount and type of blockage in the meridian that is causing the tension. The marks usually go away in 3-5 days. They should be covered until they are no longer visible. Sometimes the area will feel dry after a treatment. Apply lotion as needed.
How do you know if it's right for you?
A thorough intake is always done before utilizing either of these techniques. Cupping and Gua Sha are not recommended for clients that are weak, have a compromised immune system or if the blockage in the meridian is due to deficiency. Generally they are safe techniques. Please let me know if you are interested in learning more! I would be happy to talk to you about it and demonstrate what it looks and feels like. Above is a very general description of Cupping and Gua Sha.
If you want to get science nerdy about it follow this link for an in-depth article about the science behind Guasha: https://www.pacificcollege.edu/news/press-releases/2015/05/05/science-gua-sha.
Amy Daws is a trained Therapeutic Massage, Shiatsu, and Chi Nei Tsang therapist. She is interested in the way that these modalities can bring healing and joy to people's lives.