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Gua sha

Gua Sha Tools at Level Up Massage in Queen Anne Wasington

*Client With Shoulder Injury

What is Gua Sha?

IASTM stands for “Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Manipulation.” IASTM is based on a Traditional Chinese Medicines (TCM) technique called Gua Sha. Gua Sha is used to treat the whole system and stimulate the bodies natural healing faculties. Gua Sha can be used to helpful with strains and sprains, arthritic joints, chronically painful tissues, post operation areas containing scar tissue, myofascial dysfunction, hypertone muscle tissue, adhesions, restricted range of motion and many more.


This technique is accomplished by creating micro trauma which breaks down and adhesions and scar tissue. This can provide instant pain relief, help with inflammation, increase range of motion, and restore proper circulation to the area. This is not a cure all however and should be used in conjunction with other massage or physical therapy techniques.

One of the greatest effects of Gua Sha is using the fascial connection of the body to have an effect on the areas up and down stream of the affected area. An example of this would be feeling tight calves and back. If you are have a kink of fascia or adhesions throughout the hamstrings working this area about will provide increased range of motion and decreased discomfort in the back and calves because you worked the back fascial chain.

The four concepts of how IASTM works

1) Chemical Signal Theory- We create a reaction with our scraping technique causing the body to react on a cellular level. The body believes that it is in trouble which creates an inflammatory response that allows the body to begin healing in the area.

2) Soft Tissue Release Theory- The benefit of these tools is their usage to mechanically break up the adhesions formed in the tissue,  releasing all the layers allowing them to function and glide more efficiently.

3) Gate Theory Of Pain- The sensations of touch and pain travel to the brain at different rates along the nerves with touch being the quicker response. With a constant mechanical stimulation to the area we allow the patient to feel more relief and less pain. The IASTM provides this stimulation resulting in a decrease of pain while working.

4) Sympathetic Mechanism of Pain Relief- IASTM interrupts the cycle of injury by restoring circulation and increasing normal cell production. Gua Sha on the affected injury sends signals to the body to produce cells that release histamine and begin the process of healing and pain reduction.

How scar tissue affects the body

Scar tissue is the body’s way of healing injured tissue quickly by creating a multidirectional pattern of dense noncontractile tissue. This patch of scar tissue lead to pain, creaky sounds, sensitivity to touch, inflammation and a decreased range of motion.

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