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Scraping massage is badly over-hyped

 •  • by Paul Ingraham
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Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

Scraping massage has been badly over-hyped for as long it has existed. That is, massage using tools like this:

Photo of a Graston technique, a massage modality, being applied man’s upper back and shoulders, using a chrome tool about a foot long, slightly curved.

Care for a little scraping massage? The steel massage tools of
Graston Technique®.

There is no compelling positive evidence from clinical trials of instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) … and there are also some damning results.

Although at least two trials of tools show minor benefit, they — crucially — also show only the same modest benefit measured with non-tool techniques.

Citations and more detail in my article about “provocation therapy,” of which scraping massage is one of the best examples.

I have no gripe with most massage tools. This is only about “scraping massage” in the classic IASTM style. Many other tools can be perfectly safe and pleasant… while also making the therapist’s work easier!

I shared the above on the weekend, and it caught fire, a much hotter post than many others I worked much harder on. 😜 And yet I just briefly quoted one old article!

Social media is weird.

Obviously I should promote my work like that more often. Rather than slaving away over new content, I should “just” share pieces published many moons ago on my extremely mature, well-maintained, quirky indie website. Radical marketing! 🤯

But I am so shy of “resting on my laurels” that it probably constitutes some kind of psychological disorder. Laurelrestophobia.

And so, conscious of all the eyeballs on the article today, I decided to do a wave of updates. It was actually due for it. The eccentric loading information was out of date! Emergency! So I upgraded that, then revised the article summary, and then added two whole new sections: “The SAID principle: another basic concept in adaptation” and “Is trigger point therapy “provocative”? Read the whole thing for free here:

PainSci Member Login » Submit your email to unlock member content. If you can’t remember/access your registration email, please contact me. ~ Paul Ingraham, PainSci Publisher