Do You Even Gua Sha

Do You Even Gua Sha - 1200 x 600 px
A quick look at an ancient technique that has surprising muscular relieving benefits.

My GUA SHA Experience

Before we get to Gua Sha, let me lay the backstory. I’ve been on a pretty rigorous bodybuilding endeavor for the last 3 months. Not with any intention of competing, but rather to just see what I can personally achieve. In the past, my fitness has always been aimed at functional fitness. My career in the military was physically demanding and my fitness programs were always aimed at gaining the edge in those specific areas needed. Now that I’m retired and no longer have any true fitness requirements it’s allowed me to actually see what I can obtain in the way of body manipulation. And, if I’m honest the fact that I just turned 42 and really don’t like the idea of growing older and weaker has inspired me to dive in headfirst. The great part of this has been that I’ve had amazing results…and am still on the journey.

I began around Aug 18th at a relatively soft and unconditioned 226lbs. I did a modified KETO diet for three weeks and dropped to a lean 204. I then began a strength program followed by a hypertrophy program which I’m still in currently (mid-NOV.) and I’m sitting at about 244lbs relatively lean and stronger than ever. While my results have been great the whole denying you’re getting older only goes so far. The fact is that I hurt more and longer as a result of the strenuous workouts I’m undertaking. Which brings me to the point of this article. One of the multiple ways I’ve been countering these aches and injuries is by utilizing a sports massage therapist and it has an amazing effect. While Brandi (the therapist) uses multiple techniques….none of which are the enjoyable, relaxing ones that come to mind when you typically think of a massage (but instead are effective for recovery) I want to share one with you today you probably haven’t heard of. It’s called Gua Sha.

gua-sha-tool
A typical tool used for the Gua Sha scraping practice.

Gua Sha has its roots in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) and it a natural alternative therapy utilized to improve your circulation. This is done by scraping/raking the skin with a variety of massage tools. While I couldn’t find any solid evidence I believe the process also helps to loosen or release the fascia which houses the muscle (picture the white film on the chicken breast). All of which leads to loosening up those tight and pinched spots. An interesting thing I found out while researching this article is that in addition to the sports therapy uses Gua Sha is also used to treat –

-Hepatitis B
-Migraine Headaches
-Neck Pain
-Breast Engorgement
-Tourette’s
and a number of other ailments.

While I can only speak to my personal results I would recommend giving it a shot the next time you’re bound up by pulled muscle. One specific result for me was a pulled lower back muscle. I essentially strained my lower back/upper glute from lifting too heavy on the leg press (that’s what I suspect anyway) and for about two weeks any exercise that activated those muscles would leave me in relatively excruciating pain. It essentially felt like a deep spasm that took about 20-40 minutes to subside. After Brandi abused me with the metal torture device the issue went away and has not come back. That alone made me a believer. I just recently went back to her for a shoulder issue similar to the back and look forward to finding out how that helped this week when I hit shoulders.

Shane Gua Sha Cutout for Blog article
A picture of my side a day after my last treatment.

One word of caution. It is a relatively painful procedure. Some areas much more than others. Obviously the more sensitive skin areas hurt more. If I were to try to describe it I would say the pain is similar to getting a tattoo,however the needle is about 4 inches wide. The good news is the pain goes away as soon as the scraping stops and the pain you went to get fixed will likely go away too.

For those located in the Dothan Alabama area and needing a good sports massage (or traditional relaxing massage, she does those too) I highly recommend paying Brandi at BNS Sports Massage and Wellness a visit. For those outside the area call around and find a Gua-Sha expert in your area and give it a try. Make sure you let us know how it goes in the comments below. Do you have a preferred therapy or technique for sports related injuries? If so tell us about it below.

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