While visiting my mom today I met Susan, an acupuncturist, RN, and a jewelry maker. We got to talking about my horrible back pain that I’ve had for the past five days and before I knew it, she was performing an ancient Chinese massage technique on my back called Gua Sha.

(from wikipedia)
Gua Sha involves repeated pressured strokes over lubricated skin with a smooth edge. (We used a ceramic Chinese soup spoon and olive oil)

The smooth edge is placed against the pre-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.

This causes extravasation of blood from the peripheral capillaries (petechiae) and may result in sub-cutaneous blemishing (ecchymosis), which usually takes 2-4 days to fade. Sha rash does not represent capillary rupture as in bruising, as is evidenced by the immediate fading of petechiae to echymosis, and the rapid resolution of sha as compared to bruising. The color of sha varies according to the severity of the patient’s blood stasis — which may correlate with the nature, severity and type of their disorder –appearing from a dark blue-black to a light pink, but is most often a shade of red. Although the marks on the skin look painful, they are not. Patients typically feel immediate sense of relief and change.

It looks worse than it feels. The scraping hurt at times, but afterward there was no pain except for the tight muscle that wasn’t completely work out. It still hurts now but there seems to have been a small improvement.

My whole back is tender and purple and the tight muscle is just as sore as earlier (if not more). I won’t be doing this again.

Not too pretty though.