Gua sha is a tool-assisted derma abrasion therapy that produces petechiae on the skin and is of therapeutic value.
To administer the Gua sha therapy, it is a must to have an appropriate tool. Though at times, lots of household items can also solve the purpose of a Gua sha tool. However, it is always nice to have a relevant and proper tool.
In this article, you will learn about different types of gua sha tools and the factors to consider when choose a gua sha tools that are most suitable for you.
Types of gua sha tools
They come in different shapes, names, and characteristics. It depends upon which body part it heals. Some of the shapes and styles of the Gua sha tools have come from a long tradition, and even today, they are popular.
‘S’ shaped tool
It is a medium-sized tool. Initially, this type was available only in Bian stone and precious stone. But in recent times, the stainless-steel S-shaped tool is gaining popularity, particularly among the professional Gua Sha Therapist.
One can even find plastic and resin S type tools. One may go for plastic and resin tools only as a beginner to get a feel and hold of the tool. The practitioners of Gua Sha do not much appreciate its effectiveness.
This tool is multipurpose; in a sense, it works for hands, feet, laterals, back, neck, and shoulders. It has limited utility on the face and small parts of the body.
Wing type or the Fin type tool
It is also a popular and multipurpose tool but of a little smaller size than the S type tool.
It has three sides, and all three sides actively used for scrapping.
The grip of the tool is comfortable, as it is broad in shape, and reasonably good pressure gets exerted on the tissues.
The control and maneuverability of the tool are also excellent, and every Gua Sha fan has one of these. The small size and portability also add to its popularity.
It is convenient to use on localized parts on the hands like the biceps, triceps and forearms,
chest, shoulders, and localized use on the legs and back. It is not very convenient to scrape the whole back at one go.
The tool manufacturers have innovated on one side of the tool. Smaller wing type tools, with dents on one side, are available. And this modified tool has excellent utility in the facial Gua Sha. This cleverly dented profile is a great aid to massage the chin and jawline.
Typically, this tool found in natural materials like the stone, semi-precious stones, bullock horns. Infrequently it is found in resins also. Stainless steel Wing type tool is scarce to find.
Dolphin shaped Gua Sha tool
This shape is also popular and prevalent for a long time. It is broader than the wing type tool and hence is easy to grip. The firmer grip allows better digging into the muscles and tissue and is very useful for deep muscle massage. Bulky body parts and thicker flesh parts, like the glutes and thighs, demand an intense digging. The smaller versions of this tool are also great for the facial Gua Sha.
Like the winged tool, this is also popularly made out of semi-precious stones like Jade, Amethyst, and the likes.
However, in recent times, a modified version of the dolphin type is available in stainless steel material. The tool is very versatile, with unique holes for a firmer grip. It has got active concave and convex sides, which get appropriately used in small areas with significant control. The rounded ball-like tip is an excellent help in localized massages. The modified tool design is, particularly for professionals.
The Spoon Type tool
This tool shape is like that of a spoon. This tool is also quite popular because of the great control and pressure that this shape allows while scraping.
It is convenient and practical to use it on the neck, shoulders, soles, palms. It offers excellent control over the scraping movement, and the user can vary the pressure as desired.
Most often, it is available in natural materials like stone, semi-precious stones, resin, and plastic. It is rare to see this shape in the stainless-steel versions.
However, a beneficial variation of this shape is lately available in stainless steel. It is a bit longer than the traditional spoon type, but that is to facilitate better palm grip. The conventional models can be held only by the fingers.
It is shaped like a fish, though thinner in the middle; it is a small tool for working on small areas.
It can be held very firmly in the palm and can dig hard into the muscle or the tissue. It is excellent to relieve the cramps in the calves and localized deep Gua Sha on the shoulder and back. Deep Gua Sha also reduces severe pain in the inner thigh and upper thigh by the Fish tool.
Stainless steel variations are not that popular, and it is generally available in natural materials.
Modern IASTM (instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization) tools
In modern parlance, Gua Sha categorizes as one of the IASTM techniques and specialized tools have been developed. Basic human anatomy, muscle shape, and size, the grip on the tool, material durability and utility are deeply analyzed. And some handy tools have evolved in recent years.
The long bar tool
The idea behind this tool is better coverage of the body part on one hand and firm, even pressure on the other. Manufactured out of stainless steel, it is ideal for large muscle groups like the back, thighs, calves, and hamstrings.
This tool is robust, unbreakable, and can be sanitized and sterilized for reuse. Since it is a great tool, both the hands would be required to use and stabilize it.
The crescent-shaped tool
This one is a slightly smaller than the long bar and just handled by one hand. It is a robust tool and suitable for use on small muscles of the arms, legs, neck, and shoulders.
Professionals prefer this type of tool, because of its versatility and option to sterilize it. It is a long-lasting tool made out of stainless steel. Even the points of the tool (which are blunt out) get used to digging in or deep stimulation when required.
The Wave Tool
The purpose of design is to aid better grip and scrapping, with multiple sides featuring different applications. Hence, it is an excellent tool for professionals.
It gets made of particular plastic, whose components are nylon and glass. Though the quality of scrapping is not as smooth and effective as the stone or stainless steel ones, it wins on its design and shape.
One can use this on a range of small muscle groups like the biceps, triceps, neck, shoulders, localized part of the back and legs.
Myofascial Releaser Tool
This tool again is a very versatile full-body tool. Its construction is of stainless steel. Therefore, it is very long-lasting and can be sanitized and sterilized easily.
The grip, in this case, is a kind of handle hold grip and not the usual hole type of clasp. So it does not hurt the finger, and the tool easily held for a longer period, without fatigue.
Use it on arms, legs, back, shoulders, neck. It is ideal for the whole body except for the face.
A right and appropriate Gua Sha tool help in an effective Gua Sha treatment. A variety of tools in various sizes and shapes are available. And depending on our needs, we can always start with some primary and straightforward ones. Gradually, with more expertise, one can invest in better tools.
The number of tools and the advances made in the design and manufacturing of the Gua Sha tools indicate its effectiveness and popularity. Alternative therapies have caught the attention of the majority of the population, for many good reasons. It is heartening and appreciative to see Gus Sha therapy develop and flourish, aided by some very fantastic tools.
There are many types of gua sha tools are available on the market. Which one should you choose? Many factors can be considered when choosing a gua sha tool.
Factors to consider when choosing a gua sha tool
The tool is to scrape the body part. It should not have sharp or pointed edges. It should be comfortable to hold. From a hygiene point of view, it should be possible to sanitize and clean the tool. (It is always advisable to have personal Gua sha tool, and not share it with anyone)
Apart from these basic requirements of a tool, there are other factors too, which one must consider before selecting and buying a Gua Sha tool, namely:
- Material of construction
- The shape of the tool
- Length of the tool
- Grip/Thickness for holding it
- The shape of the edge.
- The durability of the tool.
- Ease of disinfection.
A small discussion on each of the above criteria will help us understand the relevance and bring clarity while picking up a tool. Depending upon the requirement, one can pick appropriate material, shape, size, etc. A proper Gua Sha Tool goes a long way in determining the efficiency of the therapy.
The material of the Gua Sha tool
Every material has its own ‘personality’ and ‘character.’ Gua Sha therapy is associated with the rebalancing the Qi equation of the body. For that to happen, the resonance of the material must synergize with that of the body. Not only the ‘scraping’ but the natural pulsating frequency of the material also aids healing, and it is an essential consideration.
When the tool scrapes over the skin, the resulting friction generates ultrasonic pulses. Higher the pulse and frequency, the better is the healing. The high-frequency ultrasonic pulses are more efficient in disintegrating the scar tissue. The higher rate also has a more exceptional ability to stimulate and vibrate the muscles, tissues, and blood vessels. Hence, the higher stimulation results in clearing off the blockage and allows the free flow of the Qi, the life energy. The combination of the inherent property of the material and its resonance decides which material would be most appropriate for a Gua Sha tool. Some very commonly used materials are;
By far, this is the most authentic Gau Sha tool material. In the early days, all Gua Sha tools got fashioned out of the Bian Stone. This stone comes from the Sibin Village, in China.
Bian stone boasts of the highest ultrasonic pulse rate of 3670 with a frequency ranging from 20 -2000 kHz. It is quite heavy and ideal for deep penetration on tissues or to be used on very fleshy parts like thighs, glutes, calves, etc. It manages stress miraculously.
It is easy to disinfect and is reasonably durable.
From ancient times, Jade has been a favorite for its spiritual and healing properties. This semi-precious stone has inherently cool features, and that helps dissipate the ‘bad heat’ from the affected part. The Qi energy of Jade is similar to that of the human body. And hence helpful in maintaining the Qi balance of the body.
Jade imparts longevity and protection to the person using it. The Jade tool is famous for facial Gua Sha. However, being fragile, they need to be handled with care.
This semi-precious stone suits quite well on sensitive and reactive skins. Tools made out of this stone opens up the heat chakra and is very popular in facial Gua Sha.
It gets used in the treatment of Rosacea and acne. Many therapists keep the Rose quartz tool in the freezer before using it.
Typically, Green aventurine is a happy and youthful material. It helps erase out the wrinkles and tension from the face. It brings bounce and youthfulness to the skin and is, therefore, a favorite among the women.
This material is popular among professionals because of its excellent durability and sanitizing properties. The resonance frequency is also right. The feel and grip are appropriate.
Apart from these, the other accessible materials are amethyst, Agate buffalo horns, resin, and plastic.
The shape of tools
Gua Sha tools are available in various shapes, depending on the part of the body on which to use. There is a conventional double-faced wing type tool for the hands, feet, and back.
Small, winged type with dents are suitable for the facial gua sha. Some Gua Sha tools are rod-like, ideal for large areas like the back.
Some of the tools have shapes like spoons with long handles, and they are very apt for neck and shoulders, palm, and feet.
Length of the Gua Sha Tool
The length of the tools should be according to the surface on which used. For backs and legs, longer tools would be useful, but for neck and small areas, smaller tools would be better.
The length of the tool also depends on the person using it. He should be able to handle and maneuver it properly. More extended tools are a bit tricky to manage.
Part of the body the tool gets used
For facial Gua sha, small delicate tools with dents are available, to massage the chin and the jawline. Rollers are also very popularly used on the face. And like we saw earlier for back and legs, larger and robust tools are more suitable.
The thickness of the tool
Generally, thinner devices are complicated to hold between the fingers. They tire out the fingers very fast, and the tool itself becomes fragile. It might break. On the other hand, a very thick tool will make the job of scraping difficult. In that case, it should have proper edges.
The shape of edges
The edges are essential for a good Gua Sha. Blunt edges are not suitable for scraping, and sharp edges will cut the skin. The edges should be beveled but rounded at the tip so that it serves the purpose without injury.
The durability of a tool
The tool should be strong enough to bear the pressure of scrapping. Accidental dropping should not break it. But some tools like Jade and other semi-precious stone have excellent properties. Despite being delicate are frequently used.
Professionals generally prefer robust and sturdy tools. And stainless-steel tools or Bian Stone is their favorite.
Ease of Sanitizing
On an individual level, it is always better to have one’s own personal Gua Sha tool. But professionals need to sanitize, sterilize, and reuse their Gua sha tools. From this point of view, stainless steel tools are the best. Buffalo Horn, plastic, and resin tools may not be so easy to sterilize and sanitize.