An October 11, 2017, Facebook post by massage therapist Hidesh Patel went viral with its graphic images of marks on a hairdresser’s back. Patel was promoting gua sha massage therapy, which involves using a tool to repeatedly stroke areas of the body to improve circulation. This produces scraping marks on the skin, which is what looks alarming in Patel’s images of the hairdresser’s back. The post did not make it clear that the scrape marks were from the therapeutic procedure, not from working as a hairdresser as people assumed.
While the post was misleading, it created awareness of the tremendous physical strain that accompanies hairdressers’ work. The post reminds hairdressers that they spend hours standing on their feet, bent over clients, while holding a brush in one hand and a hairdryer in the other, forcing their skeletal structure into an unnatural, off-center position. Then when you put down your tools and try to sit in a natural, neutral position, Patel observes, “it just doesn't work.”
Whether gua sha therapy is the answer for you or not, it can’t hurt to have a reminder to get massages regularly, take breaks and stretch your muscles often.