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What You Need to Know About Muscle Memory, Facial Massage, and Gua Sha

February 12, 2021

What You Need to Know About Muscle Memory, Facial Massage, and Gua Sha

Muscle memory probably isn't something you've thought about when it comes to your face, right? You've likely only heard about muscle memory in the context of working out at the gym. But what you need to know is muscle memory is part of what contributes to advanced aging of the face. It contributes to deep wrinkles, pesky frown lines at the corners of the mouth, and those vertical creases in between your eyes and other such etchings on the face.

Please don't think this means you have to learn facial exercises because those can actually cause more problems. The muscles on the face are much more delicate than the large muscles on the body, and this calls for more delicate and precise treatments.

The way a face ages is in part related to repeated facial expressions.

A few example are:

  • pursing the lips while thinking
  • drawing the corners of the mouth down in a frown
  • squinting the eyes in bright light or from poor eyesight or smiling
  • raising the brows repeatedly crunching up the forehead
  • wearing glasses tight at the temples
We're never going to stop doing these things but being aware of how to counter the effects of muscle memory is helpful in aging gracefully.

When a client comes to my studio, I look at the scalp, face, and neck as one unit. Muscle tension, stuck fascia, poor circulation in all these areas will affect the face and skin. The goal is to release fascia, improve circulation, drain lymph, and relax the muscles in the scalp, face, and neck.

One of my favorite ways to begin this process is using a gua sha (pronounced gwah-shah) device. I love a gua sha device called the Anma. It resembles fingertips in the perfect placement with thumb-like projections on the end. If you're not familiar with gua sha, it is a natural, alternative therapy that involves gently sweeping the skin with a gua sha device. It has been practiced in Chinese medicine for hundreds of years, and it even goes all the way back to the Paleolithic age when a spoon-shaped stone was used. Of course, today, we know that flat-shaped stones used incorrectly can overly flatten an area producing adverse results. Knowing how to use gua sha devices is very important.

The protocol is to use VERY GENTLE sweeping movements across the skin. This movement on the surface of the skin releases stuck fascia, improves blood circulation (which increases oxygen in the skin), drains lymph (puffy places filled with toxins), and stimulates collagen.

If you're wondering if a roller device is better than the Anma, the answer is no. The Anma wins because the fingertips and thumbs release in so many more ways than a roller device. 

After I use the Anma, I use facial contouring massage to release the muscle memory that is behind the tugging and pulling on the face and neck. This can be done at home using your fingers or a device like the Clareblend Mini Microcurrent (Watch Lift it Like a Pro Here) or (Watch Massage with Me Here)

These treatments can be done as maintenance once a week or daily if you have more to work on. If you're looking to seriously relieve muscle tension in the face, jaw, neck, or diminish wrinkles, doing a little bit every day is ideal. But do not go hog wild. The time spent doing this work is 2 – 3 minutes. Again, remember the face muscles are small and are not like the large muscles on the body. Be gentle!

Treatment with the Anma followed by facial contour massage will release fascia, drain lymph, and enhance oxygen and blood circulation, which helps tighten your skin and lift and contour the face. Over time you will release unflattering muscle memory and age more gracefully.


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