I recently attended a massage class called “A Multi Modality Approach to Sports Injuries and Pain Management”. It was an great class, that has encouraged me to increase my use of modalities already familiar to me. Specifically the use of scraping, cupping and Kinesio taping with overuse injuries.
Scraping is my term. It is basically the use of instruments to break down fascial restrictions and scar tissue. There are several brands of these sorts of tools: Graston, SASTM and Gua Sha. All 3 companies (there may be others) provide tools that one moves over an area to rid it of scar tissue.
Many of you may already be familiar with the Graston tools, thanks to your physical therapists. According to the Graston website “The technique utilizes specially designed stainless steel instruments to specifically detect and effectively treat areas exhibiting soft tissue fibrosis or chronic inflammation.”
SASTM stands for Sound Assisted Soft Tissue Manipulation – because yes, you can actually hear (and feel) the adhesions as the tool is stroked over the skin. These tools are plastic, and very purple. We used these tools in the class that I took.
I have Gua Sha tools. The are also plastic, but have rounded edges that match the rounded contours of the body. I bought these since they were recommended to me, and since they are significantly cheaper than the other 2 brands. Gua Sha is an East Asian technique.
When using these tools over areas of adhesions, one will see redness (often small red dots) arise. Since the class, I have expanded my use of the Gua Sha tools. From my own experience, they are great at breaking up scar tissue around the ankles (as from an ankle sprain).
Cupping involves the use of suction to stimulate nerves, increase blood flow and loosen adhesions. I already used this technique on people with severe tightness in their shoulders, and have increased it’s use to other tight areas of the body. Massage cupping involves the movement of cups over an area, simulating a massage stroke. Cups can be glass or plastic. I have flexible plastic ones which are easy to use. In areas of severe restriction, the skin will turn bright red with cupping.
I have been using Kinesio tape since 2007, and actually just wrote an article about it for the May 2012 issue of Running Times. Kinesio tape is a flexible tape that was developed by Kenzo Kase in the mid-1970s. It has recently become more popular, with numerous brands available now for self application.
When applied, the tape microscopically lifts the skin. This is thought to increase blood and lymph flow in the area, increasing circulation and reducing pain. The tape’s stretch properties can be used to assist in relaxing overused muscles and stabilizing joints. For more information see my article (which will eventually be available online at Running Times).
I only use Kinesio tape with specific injuries or on chronic trouble spots – ones that do not respond quickly to massage. Sometimes is appears to help, others not. When it works, it helps by reducing pain and therefore allowing the client to continue with their activity as they heal. It does not solve the problem, but along with other modalities it can help you manage an injury.
If you have any questions about these modalities, or would like me to include them into your next massage, please feel free to ask. I charge extra for the application of Kinesio tape, to cover the cost of the tape. However, I can easily show you how to tape yourself. Cupping and scraping can also be done on yourself (depending on the body part), once you know how it works. These are all great tools to keep you healthy and moving.