Cupping is a technique dated back to ancient China where a suction or vacuum is created in a cup, drawing the skin up into the cup and separating the layers of fascia.

Gua Sha comes from ‘Gua’ meaning to “scrape” and ‘Sha’ refers generally to forms of disease, the disease process in the body and also reddish granules on the skin.

Gua Sha works with circulation (blood), which in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), along with other functions, nourishes the muscles and tendons, moisturizes the skin, and lubricates joints and cavities. If the flow of blood and qi energy is weak, there is a tendency for it to accumulate and collect in pools. The lack of movement creates stagnation, which usually results in discomfort and pain. The general idea is that using Gua Sha near the area of pain will release the local area of stagnation, thereby improving the flow of blood and qi. When this flow improves, the discomfort is then decreased. Gua Sha creates microtrauma to the site of chronic inflammation to revive the healing process. It breaks down scar formations and opens soft tissue adhesions to improve joint range of motion and muscle performance. Gua Sha stimulates the immune system to increase our body’s performance in fighting systemic infections. It also stimulates the nervous system and has been shown to decrease pain.

Gua Sha and facial cupping are beneficial for people suffering from headaches, TMJ dysfunctions and sinus issues. Cups do not suction well to areas with hair; that is where Gua Sha works hand in hand with cupping.

Cupping marks are not desirable so more tonifying techniques are used when cupping for the head and face to reduce marking. Cups are not left ‘parked’ on the face like they are for other areas of the body. On and off techniques called ‘pecking’ and ‘gliding’ movements are more desirable for the face as they are less likely to leave the temporary cupping marks.

Gua Sha marks are known as petechiae, which are small red macules due to haemorrhage in the skin. Muscle fibres and connective tissue underneath are pressed, but the skin remains unbroken. If this were a bruise, blood from the ruptured small blood vessels close to the surface of the skin (capillaries) would escape by leaking out under the skin. But in Gua Sha, the capillaries remain unbroken. The leakage is from what is known as the capillary bed of surface tissue. Unable to leave the body, this blood then gets trapped in the extravascular space under the skin and forms red or purple dots. The ancient Chinese did not have a modern understanding of the formation of petechiae; instead the redness on the skin was called ‘Sha’.

Gua Sha does not have to draw petechiae to the surface to be effective. It all depends on the goal of the treatment. A change in temperature and texture of the tissue is a goal of Gua Sha.

GUA SHA AND FACIAL CUPPING are offered at our Saskatoon location by KYLIE BURNETT.

Kylie will be offering 30- and 45-minute facial cupping treatments to specifically target the head and face with cupping and Gua Sha. Kylie will also be offering Gua Sha as an add-on to incorporate into any treatment to target any specific area of congestion. It can be added to any treatment of any time length.  Gua Sha works great for all areas of the body (for example, tennis elbow), so add it into a regular treatment to get that little extra work to that bad spot.