Gua Sha & IASTM




What’s IASTM & Gua Sha Video:


IASTM & Gua Sha Defined

IASTM stands for “Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Manipulation”, and may also be called ASTYM, Gua Sha, Coining, Spooning, Scraping, or Graston. Both ASTYM and Graston are specific brands of IASTM and are based on Traditional Chinese Medicines (TCM) technique called Gua Sha and Coining, Spooning, and Scraping denote the specific tool used for the Gua Sha application. IASTM is typically used in an orthopedic or therapeutic setting (like PT, Massage, Chiropractic, etc).  Gua Sha is traditionally used in conjunction with Acupuncture to treat the whole system and stimulate the bodies natural healing faculties. The tools do not replace the hands of a PT, Massage Therapy, or any other type of rehabilitative care, but adds another option in a therapist’s resources.

IASTM was originally designed to treat tendonitis, tendonosis, and tendonopathy, IASTM also provides relief and increased functional outcomes in other instances. IASTM is effective on strains and sprains, arthritic joints, chronically painful tissues, post operative areas with proper scar and incision healing, myofascial dysfunction, hypertonicities, adhesions, restricted ROM just to name a few. Side effects of the treatment may include mild marking along the lines of treatment, and delayed onset muscle soreness, similar to a post workout response or a deep tissue massage. Often times, your client will describe a general warming feeling, or even some tingling in the treated areas for up to 24 hours.

The purpose behind IASTM/Gua Sha is multi-factorial. The techniques are designed to stimulate the healing response in the body.  This is accomplished through a therapeutic micro trauma by breaking down adhesions and/or scar tissue as well as increasing circulation and nutrition delivery to the treated area in exactly the way that traditional massage affects change.  In many cases IASTM/Gua Sha provides instant pain relief, increases ROM, and restores circulation of blood and oxygen.

IASTM is particularly effective at treating scar tissue, adhesions, and hypertonicities. Scar tissue is the body’s way of healing injured tissue quickly and securely through a dense mesh like pattern of tissue. However, scar tissue is not as pliable or as contractile as normal tissue. With the pressure of the tools, mechanical changes at the cellular level can and do occur in order to normalize scar tissue as much as possible.

In addition to scar tissue treatment, IASTM is highly effective in treating a whole verity of soft tissue issues from hypertonicities to adhesions, acute to chronic stages of inflammation, as an effective preventative intervention as well.  IASTM is not a “cure all” however when integrated into a holistic approach to healing the body, it is an essential component that helps bridge the gap found in many approaches to health and wellbeing.  IASTM is the perfect complementary modality to deep tissue, ROM/stretching, Massage Cupping, Chiropractic, PT, etc.

In this 8-hour class you will learn the fundamentals of IASTM/Gua Sha and how to treat conditions such as tendonitis/tendonosis, sprains/strains, trigger points, hypertonicities, adhesions, as well as MFR, scar tissue treatments, even cosmetic and relaxation applications. This class is an integration of an Eastern and Western approach, both system wide uses as well as specific uses to treat local conditions or injuries.

The greatest effects from IASTM are experienced when the practitioner is aware of the fascial connections up and down stream from the affected area, and can treat an entire limb, as opposed to spot treating. For example, when treating an elbow problem it is expected that the clinician treat up into the shoulder and down into the wrist and hand every visit. Important to note is that in order to achieve maximum results with IASTM, a comprehensive exercise/PT program is necessary to stress the affected tissues and remodel the underlying tissues and create new movement patterns.

It’s all about circulation!

If you take anything away from this class on Gua Sha, Graston, IASTM Techniques, & Massage in general it is our overall governing intention to increase circulation (blood flow) and promote relaxation (parasympathetic nervous system response). The bodies stress response draws blood away from peripheral organs and functions (skin, connective tissue, lymphatic system, digestion etc), and it diverts the blood into your muscles for a sympathetic nervous system response (fight or flight). Lets face it, stress isn’t going away anytime soon, but we can with Gua Sha on the body and face mitigate it’s negative effects.

Repetitive stress, chronic injury, postural deviation, structural issues, emotional, and physical stress all inhibit blood flow to tissue in need of nutrients and growth factors as well as suppress the immune system response. Restoring and maintaining circulation is the fundamental key to health and wellbeing.

Tools:

How Gua Sha Works: 4 Theories:

  1. Chemical Signal Theory – When we create hemorrhaging in the capillaries with the scraping technique (creation of sha) the body reacts and begins to treat the site as an injury. Cellular damage alerts the brain to send messenger chemicals which initiates the inflammatory response and the body begins to heal the area. For example with a chronic soft tissue injury the production of lactic acid creates and acidic environment and this increases pain, weakens tissue and decreases flexibility and strength. Gua Sha interrupts this cycle by restoring circulation and facilitating normal cell production and healing.
  2. Soft Tissue Release Theory – When we are using Gua Sha we are mechanically breaking up the adhesions formed in the tissue, releasing neighboring layers of soft tissue and restoring their differential glide. Note: it is not necessary for petechiae to be present with soft tissue release. For example, when Gua Sha is performed over the dorsal aspect of a stiff / painful joint following cast removal range of motion is improved and pain decreases.
  3. Gate Theory of Pain – The sensation of touch travels to the Central Nervous System faster than the sensation of pain. Touch sensations moves across myelinated nerves and pain sensations moves on slower, non-myelinated nerve fibers. When using Gua Sha we are creating a constant mechanical stimulation to the area and this allows the patient to feel more relief and less pain. Gua Sha provides tactile stimulation, thus providing pain relief.
  4. Sympathetic Mechanism of Pain Relief – Gua Sha interrupts the cycle of injury by restoring circulation and facilitating normal cell production. When we perform Gua Sha to the site of injury we signal the body to send MAST cells to the area which release histamine and begin the process of healing and pain reduction.

Key Responses:

  • Considered an Adaptogen bringing the body back into balance
  • Warm cold tissue by increasing circulation
  • Cools the body by increasing surface level circulation, similar to what happens when we sweat while exercising.
  • Microtrauma
  • Breaks down adhesions and scar tissue, in addition it helps the body to clear calcium/mineral deposits in the muscle and connective tissue by scraping it away.
  • Therapeutic Inflammatory Response
  • By creating microtrauma in the body, the immune system responds by sending fresh nutrient blood to the affected area.
  • Restores Circulation – Enough Said!

What does Gua Sha Treat?

  • Ankle Pain
  • Wrist Pain (Carpal Tunnel Syndrome)
  • Neck Pain (Cervical Sprain/Strain)
  • Hypertonic Muscles
  • Adhesions in Muscles & connective tissue
  • Hamstring Injuries
  • Hip Pain & IT Band
  • Tennis Elbow
  • Golfer’s Elbow
  • Back Pain
  • Knee Pain
  • Heel Pain (Plantar Fasciitis)
  • Shoulder Pain
  • Scar Tissue
  • Trigger Points
  • Women’s Health (Post-Mastectomy and Caesarean Scarring, ETC)
  • Cosmetic Applications
  • Cold, Flu, Fever, Chill
  • Remove calcium/minerals buildup in soft & connective tissue
  • AND so much more!

Complimentary Therapies And Benefits:

  • Gua Sha doesn’t replace anything you currently do, it’s designed to be integrated into what you already do.
  • Gua Sha makes MFR effortless and produces results more quickly.
  • Trigger Point (TP) therapy is easy for practitioner and client alike.
  • Perfect complement to Massage Cupping!
  • Decreases recovery time post race, sporting events, or workouts.
  • Shortens the duration of colds and illness when used in the early stages by creating a healing crisis and thus super charges the immune system.
  • Gua Sha can be very relaxing, restorative, and promotes overall wellbeing.