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Gua Sha Traditional Chinese Medicine
ancient Light Bruising technique to improve Blood Flow and Healing

Gua Sha (pronounced as "gua sha,") is a Chinese/East Asian healing technique. To "Gua" means "to scrape or to rub".

"Sha" refers to 'reddish, elevated, millet-like skin rash' (also known as petechiae). Sha is the formation/cumulation of blood stasis in the subcutaneous tissue before and after it is raised as petechiae.

Gua Sha is one technique that purposefully and intentionally raises the sha rash (petechiae).

question is, When should Gua Sha be used?

Gua Sha is appropriately whenever a patient experiences pain that is related to either

  • acute/fresh injury
  • chronic pain

Most of the patients who come to us for gua sha report coming to our TCM physician for:

  • sharp pain
  • aching pain
  • muscle or joint tightness
  • muscle tenderness or soreness

The TCM physician will palpate the patient's skin with normal finger pressure on the patient's skin, intentionally causing a blanch. And if this blanch is slow to dissipate/disappear, this means that gua sha is working actively already. 

Gua Sha is suitable to:

On top of helping to resolve muscles, joints, bones and body pains, gua sha is also used to treat:

  • Reduce fever (used to treat cholera previously)
  • Treat fatigue that is caused by exposure to heat (used to treat heat-stroke)  and cold
  • Cough and dyspnea including bronchitis, asthma, emphysema.
  • Treat muscle, joints and tendon injuries and pain 
  • Improve slowed circulation and fibromyalgia
  • Treat headaches
  • Treat sunstrokes, heat syncope
  • Treat and decrease experience of nausea
  • Treat muscle and joint stiffness, pain, or decreased movement
  • Treat digestive problems and gut disorders including food poisoning
  • Treat urinary and kidney issues
  • Improve fertility and gynecological problems

Where is Gua Sha applied on my body?

Gua sha is usually done on the body's surface that is abundant/rich with "yang" energy, and these are located moreso at:

  • back
  • neck
  • shoulders
  • buttocks, and
  • hands
  • legs

At the assessment and discretion of the TCM physician, Gua Sha may also be applied at the chest and abdomen, if they determine it's required part of treatment.

How is Gua Sha done?

During the gua sha session, patient first need to remove their clothing or fold up clothing and to lie face-down or face up on the medical plinth (depending on which part the gua sha is administered).

Then the area will be applied with some oil to prevent chaffing/friction burn, and helps to facilitate the scraping process. We may also use moisturizing cream instead for this.

We will avoid any moles, cuts (contraindications) by covering them.

Our gua sha tool will be held approximately 30 degrees angle to your skin, and its smooth edge will touch your skin, and the gua sha process will begin with downward strokes/scrapes.

Our senior TCM physician will work from one location first, before moving to another - we need to raise the sha/petechiae first sufficiently before we can move to the next location.

Gua Sha stroke / scrape areas

The gua sha targeted area will be scrapped with gua sha downward strokes with a consistent, gentle to moderate pressure - you should not feel any pains, but you may feel very slight/light discomfort.

We work on one area at a time first, until the sha/petechiae is completely and adequately raised, where gua sha strokes no longer changes the number of dots or color, then we move on to the next targeted area.

The red/purplish petechiae usually fades away in a couple of days, usually between 2 - 4 days. If it does take longer than that to fade away, that usually points in the direction of poor circulation and may require a combination of acupuncture.

Gua sha treatments can be done up maximum of up to three times a week (like Monday, Wednesday and Friday) to begin with and then scale down to 2x per week and then scale down to once per week for health and wellness circulation maintenance.

For patients with chronic conditions and pains, they can do 2x per week until the conditions stabilize.

Does the Sha Indicate Anything?

The color of the sha is can be used for diagnostic purpose

  • Very light may indicate a possibility of blood deficiency
  • Fresh red shows recent penetration
  • Dark purple or black indicate that the blood stasis is long-standing
  • Brown color indicates that may be that one's blood is thick/dry
  • Dark red indicates patient's body is heaty and heatiness

benefits of Gua Sha

Generally, patients can experience and feel a shift or improvement in their bodies and conditions, compared to their previous experience of injury, pain, decreased movements.

What gua sha does is that is circulates and unblocks Qi energy and blood, as well as releases them externally in forms that are similar/mimicking processes of perspiration and wastes fluids.

Gua Sha promotes circulations and causes the normalization of metabolic processes and is a valuable treatment for both external and internal injuries and pains, be it acute or chronic problems.

Is Gua Sha Safe?

Gua Sha is safe and more importantly, it is a "serious medicine technique" - it's knowing when to use it as well as how it's done and what to expect from gua sha treatment is equally as important.

Unfortunately, patients who suffer from acute or worse, chronic pain, often without awareness, build strong defence mechanisms to live/cope with their pain. Deep inside, they may have a sense of deep unresolved pains, feeling helpless and hopeless.

Sometimes, having their pains "brought out" and removed can be shocking awareness, and that's why after gua sha treatments, patients need to decrease intensity of their activities. They are recommended to abstain from

  • alcohol
  • drugs
  • sex
  • heavy eating/feating
  • heavy work outs

If patient can eat light or even go for a fast (if medically approved), that will help accelerate healing and recovery.

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Phoenix Rehab Physio Services

Phoenix Rehab Group works with specialist physiotherapists and rehab therapists who are highly trained, qualified, experienced and passionate to provide high level of expert care to our patients.


Patients who sustained injuries to their elbows, forearms, hands, wrists (sprains and fractures) and fingers, usually will benefit / require Hand Therapy to

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  3. increase the function of their hand following injuries or post-operations

Commonly treated hand pain injuries includes


Clinical Pilates is a form of physical exercise that focuses on posture, core stability, balance, control, strength, flexibility and breathing.

It is a system of safe and effective exercises, which meet specific individual needs, to treat a wide range of injuries and conditions.

You may do Pilates as matwork or with the reformer or both, and every session will be customized 100% to your fitness, injury and tolerance.


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Sports and deep tissue release massage helps to increase nutrient-rich blood flow to tired, tight and tense muscles to accelerate recovery and  shorten downtime / recovery period required.

It also prevents muscles from scar tissue micro-tears (and potential ruptures), and increases muscle performance. Having regular deep tissue and sports massage will keep your muscles healthy and fit with body/movement-confidence.

Read the benefits of regular deep tissue release therapy here.


All our allied health therapists and TCM physicians are fully insured and registered with Allied Health Professions Council (AHPC) and Traditional Chinese Medicine Board (TCMB).

See our entire team here with introductions and their specializations.

At the first session, our specialist physiotherapists will carry out a thorough assessment, helping them to select the most appropriate treatment to help you recover as well as provide treatment in the same session.

Follow up sessions are inline to provide expert treatment for your pain as well as prescribing specific exercises to reduce your risk of re-injury and giving you a long term solution.

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