Your Gua Sha Can Do Wonders For Neck Pain - Here's How

When it comes to developing your skincare routine, there are many steps you can add to create a more complete lineup. One popular addition is the gua sha. The gua sha has become famous for helping create definition in the face and jawline, giving you a more structured look. While not necessary for every individual, it's a benefit that can level up your existing skincare routine. 

Despite how much it has become used for the face and jaw, the gua sha could benefit another body part: the neck. The neck is a body part that seldom gets love but still suffers from day-to-day actions. For instance, looking down at your phone or spending hours in front of the computer can strain your neck. According to Dr. John S. Michels, MD, poor posture and the act of looking down obligates your neck to hold the weight of your head. This can lead to the development of the infamous "tech-neck," where your neck becomes sore and plagued with pain after continuous strain. If you want to relieve this or other types of neck pain, it might be time to take another look at your gua sha.

How a gua sha may help your neck

Gua sha techniques have long been a fixture of traditional Chinese medicine, with practitioners associating them with improvements to circulation and overall health. "Gua sha is a very standard kind of treatment modality that most acupuncturists will use," board-certified acupuncturist Tim Sobo, LAc, CPT, CES, told Cleveland Clinic. "We're helping to ensure a better blood supply and proper nerve conduction so that everything is moving through your body as it should."

While more research is needed to determine the potential long-term benefits of gua sha, you could see short-term pain relief by using the technique on your neck. A 2011 study published by Pain Medicine found that it was effective in relieving the severity of chronic neck pain in just one week, surpassing the results of a control group that used a thermal heat pad. Although researchers could not determine the exact causes behind this difference, they suggested several possible explanations for the improvement, including a potential placebo effect.

Using a gua sha on your neck may also provide benefits beyond this area. Neck problems are notorious for triggering discomfort in other sections of the body, such as headaches (per Veritas Health). Relieving stress and tension from the neck muscles could help alleviate this and return your muscles to proper form. However, you should always consult with your doctor to develop the best treatment plan for your situation, especially if dealing with multiple symptoms.

How to use a gua sha on your neck

Using a gua sha on your neck is similar to using it on your face or jaw. The same precautions apply, including using gentle pressure to avoid bruises. For smoother movement, apply body lotion, oil, or moisturizer on your neck. Massage therapist and bodyworker Sophie Lonsinger recommends using the gua sha tool to work from the bottom of your neck to the top in upward strokes (via Poosh). According to Lonsinger, you can use gentle, medium pressure to clear blockages and improve circulation. Repeat these strokes around five to 10 times before moving on.

To alleviate tensions on the sides of your neck, doctor of Chinese and integrative medicine Elizabeth Trattner, AP, DOM, recommends gently repeating the previous steps for another three to seven strokes (via American Spa). Be careful not to apply too much pressure on the veins or arteries located there. At the end of each stroke, give your gua sha a shimmy at the top of the neck. On the front of the neck, use an extremely light touch with upwards strokes. With proper care and continuous application, this process may alleviate much of your neck pain, even if it's only for a short time.