#1). Bruising. Only, Chinese medicine masters should be causing bruising as part of traditional Gua Sha. It is part of the Ki energy philosophy of releasing “bad spirits,” or “blocked energy” and never used to specifically treat a tendonopathy or myofascial diagnosis. There is much misinformation on the internet about the need to “raise petechiea” (fancy name for bruising). In the context of treating the myofascial, aggressive treatment will cause inflammation and swelling which is counterproductive to healing. All the research indicates that its is the specifically applied pressure into dysfunctional tissues that causes the stimulation of the healing fibroblast cells. Friction pressures also causes the gel to sol transition of Hyaluronic Acid between the layers of fascia which is the real phenomenon behind the commonly held notion of “breaking up scar tissue.” So, always err on the side of caution with treatment intensity, beginning with mild to moderate pressure and working a single area no more than 3 minutes.
#2). Too Sharp, No Grip IASTM Tools. Did you know that most IASTM tools sold today are made in China? Because they are most familiar with Gua Sha tools, these imports are often made with very sharp edges. Not only is bruising more likely, but you will severely limit the depth of tissues you can treat as you will only be limited to the superficial fascia under the skin. To add insult to injury, a sharp edged IASTM tool is very, very uncomfortable for the practitioner to hold. For, a conceptual treatment designed to reduce practitioner fatigue treating soft tissues, it makes no sense whatsoever to design a profile that is hard (even painful) to grip.
#3). Treating the Pain Site (only). The pain site is already subject to repetitive trauma, or was vulnerable to trauma in the first place, because of faulty posture or movement patterns. It is actually better to find the fascial restrictions and faulty movement patterns above and below the pain site first. As you release restrictions and improve function in connected points along the kinetic chain you free the stresses that cause the problem and make treating the pain site much more effective. This is the single most important aspect of successful IASTM outcomes. And, scanning with stainless steel edge tools (in addition to palpation) is one of the most effective ways to find restrictions, and fascial densities hiding in the system.
There you have it! Avoiding these three mistakes will assure much less frustration and encourage better outcomes.