Gua Sha therapy originated in the late neolithic period in East Asia. Since its ancient beginnings, it has evolved into a mature and scientifically proven treatment used in clinics, hospitals, and homes worldwide. Modern gua sha can be divided into three categories with slightly different applications and purposes. Traditional Gua Sha, Facial Gua Sha, and Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM) all find other roots in this ancient tradition.
Traditional Gua Sha
Traditional Gua Sha is used to treat muscle-skeletal issues, as well as internal illnesses such as asthma and hepatitis. This technique produces a specific type of redness on the skin known as sha. Sha indicates that the healing process has begun, and specific physiological changes are occurring. Therefore, sha can be an important diagnostic indicator, and using a tool with an appropriate edge polish and geometry is essential.
Facial Gua Sha
Facial gua sha is used mainly as a cosmetic procedure to reduce wrinkles, improve skin health and increase collagen production. It has also been used to treat TMD and Bell's Palsy. Facial Gua Sha techniques are not meant to bring up sha; therefore, the tools can be smaller and lighter than traditional gua sha tools.
Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM)
Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM) is a modern western evolution of traditional gua sha and is designed to treat only muscle-skeletal conditions. These tools tend to be heavier and have a broader edge than traditional gua sha tools allowing the practitioner to press harder and go deeper into the muscle without damaging the skin. It is more difficult to bring up sha with these tools; therefore, they are not recommended for traditional gua sha applications.