Are you tired of traditional medicine and its artificial restrictions on “natural healing”? Do you have a chronic pain or illness that needs to be fixed? Maybe you should have someone scrape your back with a kitchen spoon. But be sure to give it an Asian name so you can convince yourself that it’s vaguely mystical. Yes, that’s a bit of woo that, the Washington Post reports, is gaining in popularity.
Like massage therapists, gua sha practitioners palpate their patients to find areas that feel tight. They then rub them with a spoon or similar tool until they turn red. “Essentially, you are scraping the restriction in their skin,” Fazio says.
Oooh, “scraping the restriction in their skin.” I bet that takes care of all those conditions that are “vibrating at a lower level” and helps restore “balance.”
Where to scrape tight muscles is obvious; where to scrape for other ailments is decided by traditions that associate different organs with specific parts of the body.
Sounds rigorous. But here’s my favorite part:
Brian Lowit, 37, a manager at a record label in Arlington, says he has had back pain for more than two decades. He tried gua sha last year as part of a regimen that included massage, visits to a chiropractor and structural integration, another alternative therapy that manipulates the body’s connective tissues.
Lowit estimates that Fazio treated him with gua sha about five times in one month.
“I’m skeptical of a lot of stuff,” Lowit says. “I’ll try whatever, but in the end I’m like, ‘Why would this work?’ ” But he was pleasantly surprised.
In photos taken after the first treatment, Lowit’s back looks as though he has fallen backward into a pool off a high diving board: The skin is totally red, with scrapes and welts showing, especially in areas where he had complained of tingling that he felt was caused by poor circulation and muscle stiffness.
After a few days, the redness faded. Photos taken after subsequent treatments make his back look much less painful. “As you break up restrictions, you get less of the reaction,” says Fazio, who compares gua sha to taking a crayon impression of a leaf on wax paper. Just as the toughest parts of the leaf are darkest on the wax paper, the most constricted muscles turn the deepest red during scraping. When trying to figure out where to apply pressure, Fazio says, “it shows you itself.”
Riiiiight. So he tried this bit of bullshit along with massage for his sore neck and, voila, his neck felt better. Kind of like how a Christian prays and goes to the doctor and gets antibiotics and, wouldn’t you know it, the infection cleared up. It’s a miracle! Thank you, Jesus!