If you’re experiencing a lot of muscle tension and soreness, an IASTM or muscle scraping tool would be an excellent addition to your recovery plan.
At Sidekick, we have created three uniquely designed muscle scrapers to more effectively target each muscle group. If you’re not sure where to start, this article will guide you to the best muscle scraper for your recovery goals!
Gua Sha vs IASTM: What’s the difference?
Gua sha is a traditional East Asian healing technique that has been widely used for thousands of years. This technique uses a tool made of different materials such as stone, horn, ceramics, and metal. This tool is used to make gentle strokes along the skin to produce petechiae, which are bright red spots under the skin that result from the breaking of old blocked-up blood vessels. Petechiae is believed to remove unhealthy blockages and promote new blood flow and healing to the tissue. Traditionally, gua sha has been used to treat many things including pain, headaches, stiffness, nausea, coughs, and colds1.
Instrument-Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM), is a modern take on gua sha. This technique uses a tool usually made of stainless steel, stone, or plastic. The focus of IASTM is to promote recovery from injuries and soreness in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. As such, the pressure used is firmer and is focused on problem areas to break up any built-up scar tissue and tension1.
Features to look for when choosing a scraping tool
When choosing a muscle scraper, there are a few features that you will want to consider. The material, shape, size, and versatility will determine whether or not a tool is best suited for your recovery goals.
The material often determines the effectiveness and durability of the muscle scraper. A lightweight tool will require you to apply a lot more force to get the same recovery benefits, therefore decreasing the effectiveness of the tool. Certain materials will conduct vibrations or resolution when scraping over areas with lots of build-up. These materials are preferred as they will tell you where to focus your scraping.
Below we have weighed the pros and cons of each material commonly used for scraping.
– will not break
– uncomfortable on the skin
– slippery: less control and leverage
– lightweight: more force application required
– no resonation
– slightly heavier than plastic
– no resonation
|Stone||– heavier: less force application required|
– more resonation
|Stainless Steel||– heavy: little force application required|
– high resonation
– durable: will last a lifetime
– comfortable on the skin
– grip: good control and leverage
|– more costly|
The shape of the muscle scraping tool helps determine whether it is suited for your specific recovery goals. Concave edges wrap around muscle groups like the forearms or shins, covering more surface area at once to increase efficiency. The convex edges are effective in penetrating through thicker tissue to break up any deep tension. Rounded corners are ideal for targeting smaller areas; between tendons and on specific trigger points.
The preferred size of the tool depends on your specific scraping goals. Tools with longer edges will allow you to cover more surface area at once to increase your efficiency. The added length also helps you target those hard-to-reach places such as the back of your neck and your lats. Larger tools will naturally have added weight to them which, as mentioned before, saves you from having to apply a lot of force yourself.
If you are experiencing soreness in many different muscle groups, you will likely prefer a tool with lots of versatility. Look for a scraper that has multiple treatment edges for larger muscle surfaces as well as rounded corners to target between tendons and on focal trigger points.
Each tool is designed to target a specific area of the body. We have optimized the material, shape, and size to maximize the effectiveness of each tool.
4 out of 5 of the Sidekick muscle scrapers are made of stainless steel to improve durability, weight, and resonation.
The Bow is the most effective and efficient way to target larger muscle groups, such as the back, hips, quads, and hamstrings. In the back and legs, the muscles are thick, layered, and surrounded by connective tissue called fascia. Combined, these can all easily bury the adhesion that is causing you pain. The weight and the convex edge provide enough leverage and force to disturb the deep tissues and work out all the tension.
Given the larger size of the muscles in the back and thighs, having a tool that covers more surface area at once is necessary to increase the efficiency of scraping. The Bow has a long treatment edge that can easily wrap around and cover a large portion of the quads or hamstrings. The design of the Bow also makes it easy to reach behind and scrape your own back, so you don’t have to rely on someone else.
The Echo is the recommended tool for targeting muscle groups in the upper body such as the neck, shoulders, arms, and chest. The upper body is thick and layered just like the lower body, just on a slightly smaller scale; as such, you still need proper leverage to hit those deep trigger points. The Anti-Fatigue grip gives you that leverage when using only one hand. The 7” length of this tool helps you hit hard-to-reach places such as the posterior neck, upper traps, and lats.
The Echo is the most versatile option and can be used on almost any body part. The convex and concave treatment edges can cover a significant surface area while providing whatever amount of pressure is needed. The corners on each end can be used to target the smaller areas in the foot and any other focal points of pain around the body.
Curve and Swerve
The Curve and Swerve are the more budget-friendly options if you are not quite ready to commit to a premium tool. These tools are slightly smaller in length and weight but offer many of the same benefits as the Echo. The Curve is made of stone and is the most affordable option if you are looking to explore muscle scraping.
The Eclipse is designed to effectively scrape the feet and lower legs. The concave treatment edge wraps nicely around the muscles of the shins while the convex edge is great for penetrating deeper into the thick layers of the calf muscles. The sharper corners of this tool are ideal for hitting the small muscles in the foot, as well as for targeting the tendons.
When adding muscle scraping to your recovery plan, there are many great tool options to choose from. Sidekick offers a tool that is uniquely designed for each target area, whether it is in the upper body, lower body, back, or feet.
After purchasing your muscle scraper, check out our Sidekick App, where you will find video tutorials to give you further guidance on using your recovery tool. Get access to Sidekick University from both the Google Play and the IOS Store.
- IASTM & Gua Sha. IASTM or Gua Sha treatment in Morningside (Brisbane). (n.d.). Retrieved June 21, 2022, from https://www.totalmsk.co.uk/gua-sha-iastm-brisbane/