We know, anything that has “scraping” in the title sounds like a torture method that’s best saved for medieval dungeons and not modern saunas and spas. However, we’re here to shine some light on the treatment and dispel misconceptions about the practice. While scraping may sound unpleasant, the practice of manipulating the muscles and soft tissues with long, slow, rolling/dragging motions has been used for millennia, and there’s a reason for that; it really works.
What is Muscle Scraping? Gua Sha for Today?
Muscle scraping, as it’s understood/practiced today, is a “distant relative” of the traditional Chinese Medicine practice of body Gua Sha. Gua Sha, which has been around for millennia, is used to promote healing and move energy from one area of the body to another. A soft-edged tool, like stone or jade, is scraped over different parts of the body, promoting blood flow, circulation, and detoxification. In a spiritual sense, the body Gua Sha helps move the “qi,” life energy, around the body to help speed up the healing process.
Muscle scraping is similar to the ancient Chinese practice of Gua Sha in that a flat-edged tool is used to apply pressure in different body areas to elicit different responses. While Gua Sha was/is seen as a way to reallocate energy throughout the body to promote healing, muscle scraping is more traditionally “clinical” in its approach.
The treatment is performed to break up scar tissue, muscle adhesions, and general restrictions in the muscle tissue and fascia layers. Modern muscle scraping therapy treats issues that may inhibit mobility or slow recovery; we often treat patients with chronic neck, back, and shoulder issues or any area that has a large buildup of scar tissue.
The takeaway is this; body Gua Sha techniques are some of the foundational elements of muscle scraping, but it’s not the entire picture. Muscle scraping is primarily for muscle recovery and is not seen as a process to transfer energy.
Who Gets The Treatment Done?
When muscles, tendons, and ligaments are worked hard, as athletes often do, there is bodily fallout in the form of scar tissue and fascia restrictions. Muscle scraping helps break down the damaged soft tissue and muscular restrictions that inhibit movement and slow recovery. By intentionally creating a little bit of damage/friction, we create a healthy inflammatory response; this response signals the body to promote blood flow and accelerate the healing process. Muscle scraping is like providing the body a roadmap to problematic areas that require attention/healing agents!
So, who would need this type of treatment? Athletes of all types are prime candidates for muscle-scraping treatments, as they often look for the fastest means of recovery possible. But it’s not just athletes who can benefit from muscle scraping; anyone suffering from nagging muscle dysfunction and pain can also benefit from the treatment.
What's The Experience Like?
If you envision yourself screaming in agony as a masked human scraps your body with a blunt tool, let’s put this fear to rest; this is not what it feels or looks like. Muscle scraping is often described as feeling similar to a deep-tissue massage. While there may be some discomfort, it’s not agonizing, and even if there are intense moments, it’s typically accompanied by sudden relief. You should be aware that bruising/redness can be common after scraping, and while we try to avoid it, there is a possibility for it, especially if you’ve taken certain medications like aspirin or other NSAIDs that day. The treatment is not just for hardened athletes like bodybuilders, it’s effective for all types, and just as with any treatment, the experience will be different for all.
Should You Try It?
Muscle scraping is an effective, results-driven treatment. While we cannot recommend it to everyone, it’s a practice that has seen lots of interest and growth over recent years because so many have found success with it.