Our team uses Muscle Scraping Therapy (AKA Gua Sha) along with other manual therapies to address accumulated damage in the fascia resulting from soft tissue injuries. This techniques utilizes smooth-edged tools to directly address lumps of scar tissue. It increases the circulation in the tissue and physically disrupts the accumulated scar tissue.
Muscle Scraping Therapy
Gua sha involves scraping the skin with a massage tool, often made of jade or bison bone, to break up scar tissue. This produces soft tissue mobilization and improves circulation. This Traditional Chinese Medicine technique addresses issues like chronic pain and accumulated scar tissue which often results from soft tissue injuries. Other more vigorous forms of this therapy, such as Graston Technique, also address scar tissue and shortened fascia through similar mechanisms of action.
The long strokes used in Gua Sha stimulate microcirculation in the soft tissue. This increases blood flow. Gua sha is intended to address stagnant energy, called chi, in the body. Western Medicine more often describes this as inflammation which is the underlying cause of several conditions associated with chronic pain. Rubbing the skin’s surface helps break up this energy, reduce stagnant inflammation, and promote healing.
Practitioners generally use Gua sha on the back, buttocks, neck, arms, and legs. A gentle version also exists which is used on the face as a facial technique. We begin with mild pressure, and gradually increase intensity to determine how much force you can handle.
Muscle scraping helps breakdown accumulated fat under the skin, also known as cellulite. The stimulation breaks up and loosens fascia allowing fat to lie flat under the skin. Similar results can be gained through the regular and thorough use of a foam roller.
Muscle Scraping Sounds Scary…
As scary as scraping sounds, it’s really pretty awesome. The benefit of scraping is to help align the fibers of the muscle. The use of instrument assisted soft tissue manipulation is especially effective with post-surgery patients, muscle tears, and damaged ligaments (aka sprains). When we use gua sha on muscle tears or post-surgery this is when we’re trying to break down scar tissue. We’re trying to realign the fibers of the muscles. When we’ve realigned the fibers of the muscles or realigned that scar tissue that has formed, we’re helping that muscle work better and contract more smoothly. Physical Therapists, Massage Therapists, and Chiropractors widely use muscle scraping technique to address damage resulting from a soft tissue injury.
Ligaments don’t have as much blood flow as muscles. The ligaments need a little bit of stress to help them remodel and heal correctly. Through the application of force applied during muscle scraping, we are causing a little bit of stress to that ligament. This activates an inflammatory response, essentially trying to get blood to that area. This replenishes that ligament with nutrients helping to flush dead cells left-over from the injury.
Our team believes that addressing an issue through as many different avenues as possible is the best approach. We rarely use Gua Sha as a stand-alone method, but incorporate it as part of an overall treatment plan. It often works well in combination with deep tissue massage, myofascial release techniques and chiropractic adjustments.
Sports injuries and surgical scars respond especially well to muscle scraping. We often pre-treats the area of complaint with a Dolphin Neurostim unit before beginning a Gua Sha treatment to begin separating the distinct layers of fascial from the muscle tissue that are now gummed together at the site of the scar. One very common surgical scar that responds quite well to this type of treatment is that resulting from a C-Section delivery.
Scraping is usually used to relieve muscle knots, adhesions, trigger points, all those things associated with the fascia. It can also be used for general stiffness and lack of range of motion. Dr. Smith created a massage tool, the Knuckleball™, that is especially effective and safe for muscle scraping.
Are there Side Effects of Muscle Scraping?
There are some side effects associated with this type of instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization. Your skin may be red and even tender following a treatment, but it will fade shortly. The application of arnica topically often helps to calm the area. Those on blood thinners may experience bruising and should inform us of the use of such medications before a treatment. Also, don’t forget that many natural anti-inflammatories have similar effects to NSAIDs on the body . The same is true for some vitamins, such as A, C & E.
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