OIn the West of Gua sha, an ancient Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), practice of smoothing the skin using a jade tool, has seen a rise in popularity over the past few years. This facial massage is said to improve blood flow, reduce tight jaw muscles and contour the face over time without using expensive injectables.
You may not know, however, that gua sha has many more powers than just creating a sculpted smile. The practice has been used for hundreds of years to relieve pain and treat ailments, literally. A DIY guassage is a great option if you are suffering from chronic foot pain. You can find the gua sha techniques and tools that will help you get on your feet again.
What can gua sha do for foot pain?
Dr. Jeffrey Ulery is a chiropractor who co-founded Whole Body Health in Austin. He has been using gua shaka massage on his patients for more than 10 years. Gua sha is a favorite method for treating muscular strain, along with cupping therapy. It breaks down fascia, which is the thin connective tissue that holds our muscle in place.
Dr. Ulery explains that fascia surrounds every bone, joint and muscle in the body. As we age, we become more mobile, fall more, get sick and think that things are happening to our bodies. Adhesion can be created in fascia by micro traumas and larger traumas like fractures.
Bodily Gua Sha massage loosens adhesions, and works to open up tight knots in your muscles. It also increases circulation. Ulery says that this helps your fascia return to a healthy, lubricated condition, which allows your muscles to move more freely over one another.
Ulery says that adhesions in fascia become more like Velcro, and instead of being lubricated and sliding across each other, they become more like Velcro. This will reduce range of motion, cause pain patterns and contribute to dysfunctional movement.
Ulery says that loosening the fascia can support the muscles and reduce pain in the feet.
How to use Gua Sha for Foot Pain
Ulery suggests using stainless steel ergonomic tools to perform bodily gua sha instead of jade. Stainless steel is extremely durable and easy to clean. It glides well over lubricated surfaces.
Facial guasha tools are typically thinner and more rounded, which targets the jaw. This shape works well for small areas. However, gua sha instruments with more pointed angles and longer sides can better target specific areas. Ulery says that tools like the H-Brotaco Stainless Steel Gua Sha Tool or STICKON Stainless Steel Gua Sha Scraping Massage Tool make it easier to use and can target larger areas better.
Ulery suggests properly lubricating the feet before you attempt facial gua sha. You can rub the area more effectively by lubricating the tool with oil or balm.
Gua sha can cause skin to break if you apply it directly on the skin. [the skin]Ulery says, Because coconut oil doesn’t absorb as quickly into the skin, I recommend it. It is just important to provide lubrication for the tissues.
Before you begin, it’s important to identify the source of your foot pain. Ulery says that foot and lower leg pain often go hand in hand. Use your gua sha and lubricant to lightly rub the area. Then, follow the pain “upstream”, towards your lower legs. Pay close attention to the sound and feel of your muscles during your gua-sha treatment. Ulery claims tight fascia will be crunchy and velcro-like.
Ulery says, “Wherever there is more crunch or gritty under the skin it’s an indicator of where to go.”
Gua sha for hammertoes
Ulery says that focusing on the bottom of your foot near your metatarsophalangeal joint (AKA your toe-knuckles) can help restore mobility and alleviate symptoms of hammertoes.
Gua sha for plantar fasciitis
You can break down tissue and relieve plantar fasciitis by rubbing your feet upstream, from your heel to the ball. Ulery suggests that aiming at this area from a more favorable angle can be achieved by pulling your toes towards yourself.
Gua sha for bunions
Ulery says that rubbing bunions in their early stages can help to break down tight connective tissue.
What is the best way to relieve foot pain with gua sha?
Although there is no limit on how often you can use Gua Sha for your feet, Dr. Ulery suggests listening to your body. Frequent agitation can cause soreness and even bruising.
Ulery says that just a few minutes per day can help relieve foot pain. Ulery suggests that you continue to practice gua sha every day if your foot pain persists. This will help to break down stubborn fascia.
Keep these other things in mind
It is better to have less than you think
Use enough pressure to reach the muscle. However, be cautious: aggressive rubbing could cause damage to the skin’s surface, causing painful and unsightly bruises. Ulery says, “Less is better. You don’t need to push very hard.” “You are not trying to normalize tissue function, you’re just trying take tissue that’s at ease and improve it.
Avoid sensitive areas
Use gua sha to massage your feet. Be gentle around sensitive areas such as your feet and tops of your toes.
Ulery says, “You can really tear up the tissue because you have that hard surface underneath it that doesn’t contain a lot fat or cushion.” These are You must be very gentle if you do it over bones.
Ulery warns that past trauma, medical diagnoses and skin problems should be considered. Massaging areas that are already compromised can lead to more severe problems. Consult your doctor if you have any doubts.
Ulery adds, “You don’t want to scratch over an area with a rash or open wound. I wouldn’t scrape over any area that has had a cancer diagnosis.”
Are you ready to relieve your foot pain? You can see Dr. Ulery in action by clicking the video below.
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