Ever heard of muscle scraping? To gain better muscle performance and get quick relief from pain, amateur athletes and gymming people are opting for muscle scraping. It is a method of improving muscle performance by manipulating the muscular tissues and aims to increase blood circulation in the treatment area.
In general terms, ‘scraping’ can be defined as the soft tissue mobilization process that helps an individual in recovering and promoting the healing of soft tissue injury.
Soft tissues are those tissues that surround, connect, and support our internal organs and bones. These may be ligaments, muscles, tendons, and fascia. Nowadays, people who experience chronic pain in muscular tissues opt for scraping therapy.
Causes of Soft Tissue Injury
The body parts and muscles can get injured easily with a shock, sudden trauma, or overuse during exercise. These injuries could be mild, moderate, or severe, accompanied by pain, scrapping, stiffness, bruising, and swelling.
The human body has its mechanism to heal injuries. Generally, when the soft tissues get injured, the cells form adhesions. Sometimes, these adhesions could also be the cause of enough pain that the scraping method helps.
In other words, muscle scraping therapy focuses to treat soft tissue injuries by improving blood flow, breaking up the scar tissue, and improving muscle mobility with the help of some specialized muscle scraping tools.
What is Scar Tissue?
Since Muscle Scrape Therapy is focused on healing pain and scar tissue, it is necessary to know about the scar tissues.
Scar tissue can be defined as a collection of cells and collagen fibres that cover the injured or affected muscle tissue. Usually, a little injury, bruise, surgery, or acne can form scar tissue. On a large scale, a heart attack can also result in scarring of the heart muscle.
There are different types of scar tissues:
It is a red skin-coloured scar that forms after an injury. It often appears on the upper back, upper chest, and shoulders. Keloid scars tend to develop in people with darker skin tones.
2. Hypertrophic Scar:
It is the most common scar observed in tissues after injury. However, such scars fade away over time.
3. Contracture Scar:
This type of scar is usually observed in burnt skin areas. The contracture scars impair the movement of the burnt area.
In some complicated situations, scars need to be treated. The treatment options for scars are topical, injectable, and radiotherapy.
Muscle Scraping Technique Evolution
Muscle scraping is considered to be one of the oldest techniques practised in the traditional Chinese medicine system during the Ming Dynasty. It was called Gua Sha or Guasha. Guasha is a Chinese term that means, Gua (Scrap away) and Sha (Energy Blockage).
In ancient times, a tool like an animal horn or a piece of Jade stone was used as a muscle scraper. The tool was smoothed and lubricated with oil. After that, the same area of the patient’s skin was scrapped out in one direction.
The continuous and repeated scrapping action was believed to improve blood flow in the body part that was troubling the patient. The idea behind this technique was to enhance blood circulation, which will promote wound or pain healing.
In today’s time, the same technique is followed, but the method is changed according to modern techniques and demands. In place of jade stone or animal hor, specialized smooth metal or hard plastic tools are used.
The modern massage therapist also considers that the scraping of muscles can relieve pain and injury.
3 Benefits of Muscle Scraping: Enhanced Blood Flow
The three most common benefits of muscle scraping are explained below:
Inflammation is a natural human body mechanism to heal injuries. However, chronic inflammation can be worrying. It can lead to long-term complications.
Studies reveal that muscle scraping is an effective method of lowering the inflammation of the affected area. An animal study was done to support the theory of scraping therapy. In an animal, the amount of an anti-inflammatory enzyme, oxygenase-15, was measured before and after muscle scraping.
It was observed that after the scraping technique, the release of oxygenase-15 was enhanced which helps in the quick healing of injury and pain.
2. Pain Relief:
Some studies also reveal that scraping therapy helps relieve post-workout inflammation and pain. Patients complaining of low back pain and chronic neck pain experienced improvement post-scraping.
3. Range of Motion:
Since the scraping technique enhances the circulation of blood in a particular area of the body, it can also result in an improved range of motion. Scraping improves the flow of blood, alleviates scar tissue, and improves tendon and tissue extensibility.
It is a natural method of remodelling soft tissue after injury.
Does Muscle Scrape improve Muscle Program or Fitness?
It is proved that the muscle scraping technique can relieve post-workout pain, but does it also have some benefits in intra-workout performance? Well, some studies manifest the same.
Muscle Scraping and Muscle Performance:
Along with relieving post-workout pain and muscle injuries, muscle scraping can be beneficial in boosting weightlifting performance.
A study was conducted that included human subjects for seven weeks. The program involved traditional weightlifting focussed on barbell squats and deadlifts.
It was found that the participants were able to lift more weight without an increase in exhaustion. Also, a few biomarkers were found to be increased like Immunoglobulin A. It suggests that the body’s immune system got improved.
On the other hand, blood urea and creatine kinase decreased, pointing the lesser protein breakdown. Also, scientists believe that the results depend on the size of the sample.
The five male subjects who were tested had previous experience in weightlifting. But still, they believe that the results are promising. Weightlifters go for muscle scraping to improve their performance as it increases blood circulation.
Muscle Scraping and Cardiovascular Performance:
Along with relieving pain and healing injuries, muscle scraping therapy is also helpful in improving cardiovascular performance. It improves the heart rate variability or the rest intervals between the heartbeats.
The improvement in Heart rate variability increases the stroke volume, which ultimately supports the muscle for better performance. In short, one can have better endurance even when the heart is underperforming.
But overall, muscle scraping therapy is beneficial for improvement in muscle performance. However, it is recommended to conduct this study on a large population, including females, the elderly, and untrained human subjects.
Should an Individual Use Muscle Scraping?
Although muscle scraping therapy prices to be beneficial in improving muscle performance, it also depends on the individual’s health conditions whether he should use muscle scraping or not.
Here are the conditions when an individual should or should not opt for muscle scraping.
The technique of muscle scraping is considered to be safe. But for a safe procedure and the best results, you should not have any contradictions and are comfortable with the process.
Here are some conditions when you should avoid the muscle scraping technique:
- Complex Fractures
- Over Unhealed Fractures
- Blood Clots or Thrombophlebitis
- High Blood Pressure
- If you are taking Blood thinners
- Kidney Disorders
- Some Scars
- Intolerance to Technique
- Not sure about using tools
- Active Infections
- Open Wounds
- Malignant Tumors
- Burns or Swellings
- Bony Prominences
The most common mistakes that people make while using scraping therapy are:
- Treatment after a long time
- Applying too much pressure
In most cases, moderate pressure is recommended. While the weight of tools and bevelled edges handle the rest.
Muscle Scraping is beneficial in the following conditions:
- Muscle Tension
- Reduces Soft Tissue restrictions
- Tennis elbow
- Chronic low back pain relief
- Achilles Tendonitis
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Post Workout Recovery
- Neck Pain
What is Muscle Scraping?
The muscle scrape technique is used to release the blood stagnation in the muscle. To compare and visualize the situation, think of a running water stream and stagnant water in a pond.
The upper layer of stagnant water is covered with algae, moss, and others. While the running water is clear and fresh.
In the same way, sometimes, the blood in our body’s muscles becomes stagnant because of some injuries or shock. This stagnant blood causes soreness and tightness in muscular tissues.
Now, it becomes necessary to apply an external force to circulate that blood to get relief from this pain.
It increases the need of scraping the muscle. This technique helps release the blockage quickly. It promotes the circulation of blood and normalizes the metabolic process of cells and releases toxins from deep tissues.
The two functions of muscle scraping are:
Muscle Scraping Tools
For beneficial results of muscle scraping, it is essential to choose the correct scrape tool. These tools come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials.
The most prominent and recommended tool for scraping therapy is Sidekick. This tool is both affordable and of good quality. It comes in different shapes to contour the affected area to stimulate blood flow.
Difference between Muscle Scraping and Foam Rolling:
Sometimes, people consider muscle scraping and foam rolling the same. But they are different. However, it depends more on personal preferences when you are aiming to reduce muscle soreness.
What are muscle scraping and foam rolling?
The foam roller applies pressure and releases the tightness of the body area, and enhances blood flow. The pressure applied in the foam roll method is deeper than that applies in scraping. However, the feeling of relief is different.
For a few areas of the body, like feet arches, forearms, and neck, it is difficult to foam roll them. Hence, muscle scrape tools are a better choice in that situation.
However, a foam roller can be an option for patients who do not like deep-tissue massage. The ultimate goal of both foam rolling and scraping therapy is relaxing the muscle tissues and increasing blood flow.
What does Muscle Scraping do?
- It promotes better nutrient uptake and flow of blood and supports recovery faster.
- It relieves bothering pain and promotes tightness relief
- It improves the range of motion
- The scraping method promotes faster recovery
- The technique also shows progress in physical therapy, massage therapy, and chiropractic programs.
How to Scrape Muscles?
There are different ways to scrape muscle based on the Chinese medicine system, Gua Sha.
In this blog, the Graston technique or Fascial Scraping will be explained. It is necessary to follow the well-established procedure, and steps of the techniques and not to blindly muscle scrape.
The Graston technique, to perform muscle scraping was invented by David Graston in the early 90s. He was an athlete.
Graston was inspired to establish the procedure when he was recovering from an injured knee. He developed a unique tool and massage method for pain relief in the Graston technique.
Step 1: Warm Up:
Before performing any exercise or procedure, it is recommended to warm up the body to increase the flow of blood. It aims to increase the temperature by exercising for about five minutes.
Step 2: Scraping Protocol:
After warming up, it is time to follow the scraping protocol. Different scraping tools are required for different body parts. To reduce friction, apply some emollient cream to the intended area.
Beginning with light strokes, increase the pressure gradually in a controlled scraping motion sliding up and down. Do not apply too much pressure. Make it slightly uncomfortable but ensure that it does not hurt.
If it is causing excruciating pain, you are doing it in the wrong way and may end up hurting yourself. Slide all the affected portions for about 2 minutes. Do not extend the total duration by more than 10 minutes.
Step 3: Stretching:
After completion of the scraping method, perform some cool-down stretches. Focus on the scraped areas to promote healing. Do each stretch for not more than 30 seconds.
Step 4: Light Weight Resistance Exercise:
After stretching, perform some low-load exercises. An individual has to perform a systematic review before exercising to enhance the benefits of muscle scraping.
Step 5: Minimize Inflammation:
This is the last step of the Graston Technique. This step aims to minimize inflammation, bruising, or soreness by applying ice or cryotherapy. The ice baths give significant results if an individual can tolerate the frigid temperatures.
Can One Perform Muscle Scraping?
The great thing about muscle scraping therapy is that you can do it yourself with caution.
If you can not do it on your own, it is better to consult a physical therapist. For some parts like the upper back, you have to depend on someone else.
Sometimes, you might apply higher pressure or target the wrong portion, which can be harmful. Hence it is advisable to approach a professional physical therapist for the therapy.
Does Muscle Scraping Therapy Hurt Badly?
Since it is associated with pressure application, it is bound to cause some pain. But too much pain can be dangerous. The treatment procedure might be uncomfortable. However, the tools used are not sharp.
Some people find scraping less painful as compared to deep tissue massage and lacrosse ball movements.
In a systematic review, the doctors say that it is not easy for an individual to perform scraping. For an individual to hold an instrument and feel the grit, to put enough tension to tear the adhesion, he would have to be a circus monkey.
When and How often should you Scrape the Muscle Tissues?
Post-workout is the best time to scrape the muscle tissues. However, if you want to maximize your performance, you can try out the technique during a workout session too.
The frequency of muscle scraping depends on the aim, goal, and workout demands. Generally, muscle scraping is performed twice a week with a gap of a minimum of 48 hours between two sessions.
However, one can perform light sessions of treatment daily.
Are Results Long Lasting?
In most cases, there is long-lasting relief. However, depending on the issue and soreness, the results might last from a few days to a few weeks.
But if you are performing muscle scraping for recovery modality for hard training, then you need to do it permanently.
Scraping therapy helps pull or strain muscles for scars, fascia restrictions, and sore muscles.
It is also effective in relieving muscle knots and soft tissue mobilization. In some cases, if muscle scraping is not performed cautiously, it can lead to permanent pain.
Hence, one must not neglect the primary problems faced during the procedure.
Muscle Scraping Therapy Centres:
Since muscle scraping therapy is preferred at present time, there emerged a need for Muscle Scraping Rehabilitation Clinic.
These physical therapy centres have rehabilitation professionals who follow clinical practice guidelines to perform muscle scraping to relieve muscle pain.
They use standard accessibility tools and muscle scraper for physical therapy and soft tissue mobilization. These centres have well-established procedures and professionals. Some of these centres take Gua Sha therapy as a basis.
Muscle Scraping is a technique of relieving the soreness in softer tissues and connective tissue of the body, like tendons and ligaments. This therapy method uses the Chinese medicine system, Gua Sha, as its basis.
It involves the use of various scrape tools and techniques to relieve knots and soreness in muscles.
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