You: “My elbow is killing me!” Your Friend: “You should get it scraped.” You: “What?!”
“Scraping” is the street name nowadays for a manual therapy technique (ASTYM) that uses tools designed to promote healing for common sports injuries and even household chores! How many people do you know that have complained of having elbow pain when doing something as simple as lifting a pan off the stove when cooking? What about plantar fasciitis? Tennis elbow? Golfer’s elbow? Pain in the front of your knee when running?
The list goes on and on because we are all involved in activities that we either would like to or need to keep doing on and on and on. Besides pain, what do all these frustrating joy-kills have in common? A common solution that can be enhanced by, you guessed it, scraping!
All the party crashing injuries above involve unhappy tendons; if you just forgot or get queasy whenever thinking about what exactly is inside your amazing bod, tendons are where the rubber meets the road whenever you want to move any part of your body on your own. They are what connect your muscles to your bones, and sometimes, when we are busy doing something over and over (think golf swing, running, beating eggs, etc.), that repetition can lead to tiny, microscopic tears in those tendon fibers (think of a frayed rope).
Those tears are what lead to us experiencing pain reminding us just how much fun we were really having. So, like a papercut, our body gets to work on healing these tears so we can get back to our busy lives.
Our body is amazing at healing, but we often take issue with how fast this healing occurs. This is made evident by our insistence to resume our normal daily activities as if nothing had ever happened, as if nothing was ever torn in the first place, as if the pain was all in our head, as if we just need to be tough buttercups. (Are we hearing ourselves?)
In the end, the healing process can often become delayed or even halted! So, then we find ourselves stuck in this cycle where we feel fine one week and have immobilizing pain the next. What gives? What can be done? How can we re-initiate the healing process?
You can think of scraping as a jumpstart to your body’s natural healing process. Skilled application of this technique promotes blood flow and activates a cellular response conducive to tendon repair. It is a fast procedure and is well tolerated by most patients. But, tendons are not repaired by blood flow and tissue activation alone, they need tension, they need stress, they need…dun dun dun, EXERCISE.
Specific exercises that stress and apply tension along the tendon’s fibers so that your tissues know where to lay down new strands because otherwise, you get a jumbled hot mess of spaghetti!
Bottom-line: scraping, or ASTYM (Augmented Soft Tissue Mobilization) for our semantics fans, is simply a tool that has been shown to be effective with treating tendonosis, tendonitis, or unhappy muscles and tendons when coupled with an exercise program tailored to your interests and needs.
Think you have an unhappy, unruly, and fussy muscle/tendon? Scraping may be a worthwhile consideration on your path towards healing.
To find out more about ASTYM and if it is a good fit for you, please email email@example.com!
Korey Derocher, Student Physical Therapist