“Nobody likes the bruising but everybody loves the way it feels, so it’s worth it,” promised Stephanie Maceiras, Acupuncturist at the Village Wellness Project in NYC, regarding the ancient Chinese body therapies Gua Sha and Cupping. Before trying these treatments out for myself I thought, why would I ever voluntarily want to get bruised up? Why not just go for a therapeutic massage? But then I thought about it: nobody would go near it unless it made miracles happen. Well… SPOILER ALERT! My back, which is prone to pain due to my scoliosis, has never felt so good.

This video and blog post is the “Part One” and focuses on gua sha—the next finishes off the treatment and goes into detail on the cupping. Skip to Cupping.

Gua sha (pronounced either gwah shah or gwah sah) translates to “to scrape away fever” in Chinese, and is performed by a practitioner palpating and scraping certain areas of a patient’s skin with a round-edged instrument, such as a spoon, like the one used to eat wanton soup. After oil is applied to lubricate the surface, a repetitive scraping (gua) brings stagnant blood (sha) to the surface of your skin, allowing fresh new blood to replace it in your muscles where it needs it most. It’s similar to the way a massage works, only way more intense. It’s not a painful procedure, just a little irritating because of the repetition. But according to Stephanie, a lot of people actually love the way it feels because you can feel it working immediately.

Bruising from Gua Sha, which faded completely after 3 days.

Who is a candidate for gua sha? Everyone. This lesser-traveled spa path helps remove toxins from the body very effectively, and helps treat everything from chronic pain to common colds, bronchitis and the flu. In my case, I was doing it for back pain; to relieve the stress of sitting at a computer for 8-12 hours a day. Asthmatics and athletes alike seek gua sha (and cupping) for pain relief because they offer immediate, highly effective results. If you have any open wounds you can still get gua sha, but your practitioner should stay away from them.

This results? Visually speaking, you’ll look like you have a rash, which will typically last for 2-5 days, but could be longer. Mine faded fully in about 3 days, and what you see to the left is what it looked like that night.

As Stephanie explains in the video, these treatments are not just healing and preventative, they can be diagnostic. Based on the color and how long the bruising lasts, your acupuncturist will be able to tell a lot of things about you. Do you have a blood deficiency? Poor circulation in certain parts of your body? The way your body reacts can help point practitioners and doctors to more effective treatments and recoveries. In my case, the left side of my back was bruising up faster than the right which meant I held more tension there, so she concentrated her scraping there.

I didn’t go through with a full treatment for vanity’s sake—as this was my first time, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t one of the people who stay bruised for two weeks (I sit at my computer a LOT). But now I regret it because the results were truly more incredible that I could have imagined. Sitting in my bed that night I felt a rush of vibrant energy in my upper back. Sitting at my desk the next day, my back beheld the power of the sun. It radiated yet a cool – not hot – sort of energy, and it also felt like a sponge taking in every delicious bit of oxygen around it. I sat up straighter and my back wouldn’t creak if I tried. This honestly may be my new favorite spa treatment.

Bruise me up baby, I cannot wait to go back! Now I want wanton soup…


Village Wellness Project
80 E. 11th St., Suite 407
New York, NY 10003
Book on their website
To book with Stephanie directly, call 646-396-9756

This spa treatment was comped for editorial consideration, but all opinions stated are genuine and my own. Disclosure Statement

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