You may have heard of gua sha—a huge at-home beauty trend in which one starts by lubricating the skin, usually with a nourishing face oil (although a favorite serum or moisturizer will work as well), and then they “press stroke” their skin with a small flat stone. Gua sha is a Chinese external intervention technique that has been around for over 3,000 years and is known to improve blood flow, remove stagnant energy, promote lymphatic drainage, and restore your body’s balance. People swear it reduces puffiness, swelling and fine lines to give them that natural glow.
What you may not have known is that it also helps with microcirculation which may relieve muscle aches and pains. Many even use it for neck and jaw pain. And at under $10, it’s definitely worth trying.
To buy: Gua Sha Jade Stone Tool $7; amazon.com
According to Jason Chong, a Traditional East Asian Medicine Physician and educator in Oriental Therapies, “Gua sha works for muscular pain by breaking up adhesions in the connective tissue that restrict movement and impede circulation. This allows the restoration of function, the return of healthy nutrients with fresh blood circulation, and the removal of toxic waste metabolites through the lymphatic circulation.”
A study published in the journal Pain Medicine found that gua sha offered short-term benefits to chronic neck pain. Forty-eight patients were split in half and put into two groups. One group only used a heating pad to treat pain while the others were treated once with gua sha. The group who tried gua sha versus those who used a heating pad noticed a significant difference in pain after one week of gua sha treatments.
The good news is that gua sha can be performed at home to relieve muscle pain. Chong says it’s important to note gua sha should be performed over muscular tissue—not bone or tendons. First, lubricate your skin with some body oil. Apply pressure (you want moderate to heavy strokes) from the top to bottom of your back moving outwards from the spine. “The pressure should feel firm but not painful,” says Chong.
To buy: Bio-Oil Skincare Oil $22; amazon.com
Continue this motion for 5 to 10 repeated strokes over one area. “Redness will appear, often looking like a ‘scrape’. This is the sign to move onto the next adjacent area and repeat until this redness appears. These marks will disappear in a few days with healthy consumption of water and are an indication of tissue release.”
But don’t just take his word for it. Happy customers are raving about this particular gua sha tool on Amazon—which is under $10—saying it has helped their muscle pain.
One customer who tried the tool shared, “My family member had some pain and we just used this product and it worked perfectly!”
Another revealed she uses the tool on her knees “which swell up sometimes” for pain relief. “I use baby oil and then the tool to perform scraping massage motions around the tissue surrounding my knees. Now they don’t swell up as often anymore!”
“This little gizmo is a miracle worker,” wrote another satisfied user. “It’s probably designed for use on the face (and it’s wonderful for that!). But, additionally, it’s good for using anywhere that’s a little achy, and especially as a massage tool on the bottoms of your feet. I call it my rejuvenating tool and recommend that everyone get one.”
It even works on tension headaches, as one relieved reviewer shared, “I have started using it for headaches, surprisingly it does a fantastic job of easing tension headaches before my headache meds kick in.”
And at under $10, it makes a perfect stocking stuffer for someone you love—or yourself.