Gua Sha, Scraping, Striping: What is it and Why it Works!

What is Gua Sha?  Scraping?  Striping?  Are they all the same? What the heck is it and how does it work?

Let me begin by saying I was taught traditional Gua Sha which is simply a Chinese technique of manipulating soft tissue also known as Striping or Scraping.

I want to begin with a short story about myself and then we’ll dive deeper into the technique.

Recently, my martial arts school reopened and I dove right in and was training 3-4 classes a week and swimming as well.  OK, I’m used to training  a lot but since the virus took hold of the country, gyms and martial arts schools were closed for at least 2  months.

And now, I want to get back at it and, like all my teammates, train train train.  This lead very quickly to an overuse injury in which my leg would ache, throb, and tingle non-stop.   I normally would go to my soft tissue doctor and get treated but he was out of the office for the week.  What am I going to do?  Take Advil?  Do nothing?  Stop training?  Answer, ALL NO!

I took out  my tools used to perform Gua Sha/ Scraping/ Striping and began to work on my leg. After 10 minutes, I had tremendous relief, no pain, no tingling and I could walk around and I no longer noticed anything with my leg.

So what happened?  What was so magical with Scraping?

Let’s begin with Fascia.

Scraping/ Gua Sha
Scraping – Gua Sha using a jade tool
Fascia Myofascial Release Gua Sha Scraping
Fascia is a dense connective tissue with a spider web type appearance.

Fascia is a dense connective tissue that is very elastic, similar to that of a rubber band.  It stretches when you move, exercise and springs back.  The entire body is covered with fascia and it also permeates muscles, covers organs and joints.  The main job of fascia is to facilitate bodily movements, give support and bind us together.  It also allows muscles to slide under the skin easily as well as muscles sliding across one another.

Let’s think about an injury to your arm, you could move your arm through a complete range of motion and now, it’s hard for you to raise your arm.  In part, fascia has been damaged and forms a knot or twist in the tissue.  This knot inhibits your ability to move your arm completely.

What do you do?  Take Advil, Ibuprofen, opiods, use ice?  NO!

After listening to how your injury occurred and evaluating your range of motion I will most likely perform Gua Sha/ Scraping/ Striping on your tissues.  Why?  Because this technique unwinds the tissue, or unwinds the knot, allowing your arm to move freely again.


You may be reading this and wondering why I am giving examples of using Scraping on my leg or an arm/shoulder.  These are big muscle groups that you an easily get a visual image.

Gua Sha Scraping on the calf
Gua Sha/ Scraping on the calf.

The GREAT news is that I use Scraping/ Gua Sha on most patients for TMJ and Migraines.  But, what is the difference?  Nothing, the muscles of the jaw and neck are simply smaller.  That’s it!  And, this allows me to do Gua Sha very gently so that you get relief from pain and remain comfortable throughout the treatment.

Can You Get Gua Sha On Your Jaws? 

Absolutely!  As I mentioned earlier, Gua Sha/ Scraping is a great conservative treatment to release knotted up tissue.  If you have the following, Gua Sha/ Scraping may work well for you:

  • Limited jaw opening
  • Headaches – especially in the temple area
  • Ear pain
  • Neck pain
  • Jaw pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Pressure behind the eyes


Gua sha Scraping Striping
Gua Sha to treat tight jaw muscles and fascia.

More great news is that the treatments don’t take a long time to do, only about 15 minutes for you to feel better.

One reason why I love Gua Sha/ Scraping so much is that it is a conservative treatment for headaches/migraines and TMJ  It will  not harm you in any way.  Call now to get relief today!  480-489-7293