Scraping For Myofascial Restrictions

Scraping tools are relatively new to the massage therapy field. The technique is very similar and may be referred to as "Grastoning" sometimes, however the Graston Technique is trademarked and requires a therapist to attend their specific courses to be able to use the Graston term in their marketing.

Using tools at home can be great for many reasons. They help you get to hard to reach places. Tools can be stronger that your hands, allowing you to work on an area for a longer period of time. Whenever using tools at home, however, it is best to educate yourself as much as possible on proper technique and application prior to using them. Preferably, you should work one on one with a massage therapist or other health care provider the first few times you use the tools so they can make any necessary adjustments to your technique.

How Does It Work?

So how do scraping tools work as a form of fascial release? First, if you haven't checked out the information on myofascial release yet or trigger points and releasing them, now would be a great time. As you may remember from those posts, we can get fascial restrictions practically anywhere in our bodies. These adhesions can be manually broken up and this is where the tools come in.

Buffalo Horn Scraping Tools

If you don't have a set of scraping tools yet, I would highly recommend getting some. If you aren't planning on having them for professional use, there is no need to purchase the stainless steel sets. Simple sets are either made out of buffalo horn or durable plastic and will still do a great job for you.

Using The Tools

Once you have your scraping tools, you will have to find an edge that contours to the area you want to work on. The various curves on these scraping tools will help you to do this. It doesn't have to be a perfect match, but you do want the curve of your skin to be complemented by the tool you are using.

Scraping can be done either as a dry technique or not. Utilizing the tools without applying any oil or lotion to the area can help release the superficial layer of skin while applying lotion or oil allows you to impact the deeper tissues. Either way, you should first warm up the area. You can do this with heat packs, or simply by vigorously rubbing the area with your hand.

If you haven't released the superficial layers of your fascia in that area before, you should do that next, even if you are wanting to work towards deeper tissues. Start with the tool at a 45 degree angle one inch above or below the area of restriction. Gently apply pressure into the tissue and glide the tool along the surface of your skin. This may be very painful for some people, so take your time working into the area. It may feel bumpy while working through the tissue and you may also hear crunching. This is not uncommon. If the sound makes you unsettled, you may want to wear headphones and listen to relaxing music.

Most of us have adhesions where our skin meets the muscles, then into the muscles themselves, down to where the muscle turns into tendon and attaches to your bone. With these multiple layers of adhesions, it is better to release them one at a time then try to dig through the whole thing at once.

Be Cautious of The Direction of Blood Flow

Veins in our cardiovascular system help bring blood back to our hearts. Within our veins there are little valves that help the blood from moving backwards and pooling in our hands and feet. If you are using a scraping tool against the flow of blood in your veins (pushing in a direction that is away from your heart), it is important to make sure that every 2 or 3 strokes you apply at least one stroke in the direction of your heart. This can be done with the tool or with your bare hand. Doing so takes unnecessary pressure off of your valves and keeps your system running smoothly.

Step By Step Breakdown
1. Warm up the tissues with a heat pack, hot shower, or vigorous rubbing
2. Find an edge of your scraping tool that contours the area to be treated
3. To work the superficial layers first do not add lotion
4. Working in at a 45 degree angle, start applying gentle pressure into the skin and slowly scrape through the adhered tissues.
5. If working in a direction away from your heart, every 2-3 strokes, apply a counter stroke to take pressure of the valves in your veins
6. To work into deeper tissues, apply lotion or oil and repeat steps 4 and 5.
7. Once done with scraping, be sure to stretch the muscles you released and hydrate.

How Long To Use Tools

If it is your first time using scraping tools, it is best to not work in one area for more than 10-15 minutes. The more accustomed you become to using scraping tools regularly, the longer you will be able to work in one spot if necessary. Any initial treatment, even when working different areas, should not exceed 30 minutes overall.

Possible Side Effects

Since scraping tools are removing adhesions, there is always the possibility of bruising. Lighter bruising is more common in which the bruise takes on a pink-ish hue and can commonly be referred to as "Gua Sha". Darker bruising can be indicative of working too hard in one area and should be avoided. If you notice bruises from the scraping, applying Arnica Root Gel to the area may help the bruises fade faster. Arnica can also help with muscle soreness and stiffness.

You may also feel fatigued or slightly sick after using scraping tools on yourself. This is very normal and is usually due to metabolic debris being released into your blood stream. Due to the excessive amounts of this debris following treatment, it is important to hydrate well 24 hours before a treatment and up to 72 hours afterwards to help flush the body. During this time alcoholic beverages should be avoided.

Corinne D. Bracko-Douglas, CMT, LMT, CKTP is the owner of Dochas Clinical Massage Therapy based out of Columbia, MO. She received her diploma in Clinical Massage Therapy from The Soma Institute in Chicago, IL in 2004. She enjoys teaching others about how to live a healthy lifestyle and still works one on one with clients out of her private clinic. When not working as a therapist she can be found enjoying trail hikes with her wonderful husband, Lee, and their adorable doggos, Shadow and Koda, or trying out fun new workouts to expand her knowledge of the human body and how it functions.

The advice given in these articles is not meant to diagnose. Please always consult with a health care provider before performing any of the techniques described upon yourself.


  1. Muscles all over your body need love and attention to improve full body function and motion. Our beautiful Myofascial Tools case holds 4 of our sleek myofascial release instruments that are designed to treat fascia dysfunction


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