George Davis, principle massage therapist at The Pain Relief Center asks Kevin Schoonmaker, LMT, and Gua Sha Practitioner, about a Traditional Chinese Medicine modality he uses to help clients in pain feel more comfortable.
George Davis So Gua Sha is a name most people aren’t familiar with…what does it mean and what does it do?
Kevin Schoonmaker Gua Sha, in Chinese, means scraping wind.
GD That’s really a different term…what does wind mean?
KS So wind is more of a Chinese medicine term and it stands for a few different things when it comes to Western Medicine. When were talking Western medicine, Gua Sha is good for easing muscle tension, it’s good for helping muscles work better, it helps to pull lymph out of the area and reduce swelling, it can help to remodel scar tissue, it’s really good for a lot of things.
GD Can you use it on anyone?
KS Gua Sha’s good for anyone. Anywere from 80 years old to 16 years old….it doesn’t really matter, anyone can use Gua Sha.
GD What’s the process?
KS So we use a tool…a bunch of different tools – there’s a bunch of different styles– and we use those tools to scrap the skin and by scrapping the skin in different manners we can effect the tissue underneath in different ways.
GD Does it hurt?
KS Not at all. There are some deeper techniques that are a little uncomfortable sometimes, but if the practitioner takes it slow and controlled it feels just like a deeper massage.
GD Tell me about the tools…
KS So the tools come in all shapes and sizes and different materials. I use stone tools, I use horn tools, wood tools, metal tools…the metal ones even have attachments sometimes. It really doesn’t matter which ones they use, I like to use all of them actually, in my practice I use the stone one all the time…the metal ones…I love them, they’re all greatl.
GD So if I came to see you for Gua Sha, what would it do for me?
KS So it helps to loosen muscle…or, like I said earlier,it helps to relieve swelleing and edema,…it can also help the muscle work better, it can help the nervous system talk to the muscles better, or it can help the sensory nerves “hear” better and understand what the body’s doing better.
GD Can you use it on anyone?
KS Anyone can benefit from Gua Sha. Since it’s good for so much we can really incorporate it within the massage if we need to… it can benefit anyone that needs it.
GD So will you show us what a treatment looks like?
KS Absolutely….check this out…So I’m putting oil on the skin..that’s just for lubrication purposes. It helps the tools slide and glide across the skin a little better.
The wood tool is good for trigger point issues or issues along the spine.
This is the jade tool…its stone…and we’re going to use it in a more traditional style so we pull what Chinese Medicine would call wind away from the spine and out of the body. I’m going a little bit lighter and much faster than what I would do if I were really trying to effect muscle tightness.
The metal tool is good for muscle tension. And then when we go a little bit faster with this its good for re-teaching the muscles to talk to the nerves and visa versa. As you can see, the skin becomes red – but it usually only happens like that – and stays – if it’s really needed in the area.
So this is the horn tool. We’re going to use it much faster and much lighter – again, in more of a traditional manner where we’re trying to pull wind out of the body. We can really get in to a much tighter area with this kind of tool…and we can flip it around.
GD What’s the best thing you can say about Gua Sha?
KS The number one thing I can say about Gua Sha is that it’s extremely versatile and it’s good for anyone. I mean, here at The Pain Relief Center we’re doing our best to help people live their lives their daily lives without pain, and this is one one of those tools that’s really going to help us do that.