CUPPING & GUA SHA
Cupping and Gua Sha are ancient techniques for massage that have found new converts in the 21st century.
Cupping -- or Myofascial Decompression -- uses suction to lift tissues and increase superficial tissue blood circulation. There are a variety of tools that therapists use -- from glass to plastic. I use silicone cups because they are easily sterilized.
Because Cupping increases blood flow to the superficial tissues, there can be discoloration to the skin that is technically bruising. However, Cupping doesn't damage tissues or cause localized pain as does bruising through trauma. The discoloration also fades in about a week to 10 days, which is faster than trauma bruising.
Gua Sha -- or Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Manipulation -- uses a rounded-edge tool to friction the skin and underlying superficial tissue. There are a variety of tools used for this -- from stainless steel to bamboo, jade and quartz to Yak horn. I use a ceramic soup spoon because it is economical, ergonomic and easy to sterilize.
Because Gua Sha increases blood flow, there can also be discoloration to the skin -- just like Cupping, Gua Sha discoloration is not the same as bruising from trauma.
Benefits: Research studies on both Cupping and Gua Sha are limited, but encouraging.
Both have shown efficacy for: Herpes Zoster (shingles), nerve pain, Bell's Palsy, lumbar disc herniation,
and Hep C.
Both have shown dramatic improvement in localized and regional circulation boosting the immune system and reduction in inflammation.
Cupping has been shown to elicit the release of endorphins, serotonin and cortisol