Plantar fasciitis is a condition that can be successfully kept under control with the help of conservative treatments. Patients are advised to wear orthotic inserts into their shoes, try out night splints and refrain from walking barefooted. Scraping is one of the newest recommendations for patients with plantar fasciitis; performed on a regular basis and with the right tools, it can reduce the contracture of the plantar fascia and improve the overall experienced symptomatology. As mentioned, there are specific tools that have to be used for scraping, such as the gua sha or the heal blade.
How do these scraping tools work?
Scraping tools have the purpose of reducing the contracture of the plantar fascia and thus eliminate the dysfunctionality experienced by the patient.
The tools are generally made with an ultra-smooth surface, in order to be applied to the skin, without doing any actual damage. They are highly resistant and simple to clean, not to mention they are static free.
Scraping tools can be used to scrape over the contracted plantar fascia, helping with the elimination of harmful toxins and also breaking up any scar tissue that might have formed in the area. By using a scraping tool, such as the gua sha or the heal blade, you will notice that small, red spots have formed under the skin. The more you will scrape, the more visible these petechiae are going to be.
If you have noticed that such a change has occurred, do not be scared, as this is a positive sign. It means that the scraping method actually works and that the plantar fascia is released from its contracture. In patients who suffer from plantar fasciitis, there is a constant contracture in the respective fascia. This also causes the blood flow in the area to be decreased. In time, both the lactic and uric acid will accumulate under the skin, causing a wide range of problems. By using scraping tools, you will release these harmful substances from under the skin and improve the symptoms experienced.
As you will see in the following paragraphs, the regular usage of scraping tools can actually reduce the pain caused by plantar fasciitis. At the same time, it can improve the blood circulation and eliminate any scar tissue that might have formed in the soft tissues surrounding the fascia. Scraping has an anti-inflammatory effect and it can hasten the recovery of suffering tissues, breaking up metabolic waste and harmful micro-toxins. It is 100% safe and especially recommended for those who suffer from chronic pain (due to plantar fasciitis).
Myofascial scraping, a technique with positive results
Even though the myofascial scraping technique is not actually new, it was only recently that specialists have started to recommend it for people with plantar fasciitis. The technique relies on performing tissue massage, ranging from soft to moderate, whereas the level of intensity is concerned. It is also based on the usage of specific tools, in order to guarantee that the pressure over the affected area remains uniform at all times.
When a person suffers from a condition such as plantar fasciitis, the soft tissues around that structure are inflamed and painful. By using scraping tools, one can apply the necessary pressure on the inflamed soft tissues and, thus, cause micro-traumas. Do not worry, as this is a good thing. Scraping can speed up the recovery of suffering tissues, by bringing more blood to the respective area. This blood is rich in nutrients and antioxidants, helping the plantar fascia to repair itself.
Steps to follow for a successful scraping experience
Once you have purchased a scraping tool, it is time to actually use it. First and foremost, you should apply lotion or a massage oil of your choice to the area in question. Keep in mind that the scraping tool should be grasped with both hands, in order to guarantee a uniform and steady pressure over the affected area.
As the myofascial scraping is meant to help you deal with plantar fasciitis, you should begin at the level of the calf muscles. What you want to do is take your scraping tool and apply pressure on the calf muscles, going in a downward direction, twenty to thirty times. Make sure that the pressure lies between gentle and moderate, without causing too much discomfort. For the next step, go in an upward direction. You can repeat the process, using either the concave or the convex side of the scraping tool.
Continue by crossing over the leg on which you desire to use the scraping tool. Then, use the tool in question to scrape over the Achilles tendon, reaching the heel and then the arch of the foot. In order to have the best control, it is recommended to use the narrow end of your scraping tool (you can also perform the myofascial scraping with the sharp edges of the tool but make sure it does not create any major discomfort).
If, at any time, you feel like there is a lot of discomfort, it is recommended to re-apply either lotion or massage oil. The whole scraping procedure should not last more than five to ten minutes and it can be repeated two or three times per day. Many physical therapists recommend scraping to be performed before engaging in physical activities, as it reduces the contracture of the plantar fascia and improves overall functionality. In order to obtain the best results with the myofascial scraping, it is indicated to apply an ice pack wrapped in a towel on the lower leg and foot. The cold application should be made before and after each scraping session. You should never apply ice directly on the skin, as it can cause blood circulation problems. As an alternative to the ice pack, you can try a cold compress.
What can you expect after using scraping tools?
As you have seen so far, using scraping tools, such as the gua sha or the heal blade, you will eliminate any restrictions present at the level of the plantar fascia. You should not be worried about what happens after you will use the scraping technique, as it is highly likely you will experience more discomfort rather than pain. As already mentioned, your skin might exhibit petechiae or general redness but, after a couple of days, it will regain its normal-looking aspect.
Many patients have declared to have felt immediate relief from the pain and stiffness, upon using scraping tools. Symptoms such as tingling and numbness were addressed as well, as the scraping technique can improve blood circulation and reduce the irritation of free nerve endings in the plantar fascia. Perhaps the most important result is the improved level of functionality; as the plantar fascia is no longer restricted, symptoms such as pain and inflammation are going to disappear. Thus, with the overall symptomatology improved, you will enjoy a better quality of life.
Essential aspects to remember about scraping tools
Scraping tools should be used exactly as instructed and under the supervision of a physical therapist (especially at first). As you will become comfortable with the scraping technique, you can try it at home, without no supervision. Always make sure to lubricate the area of work first and repeat the application of lotion or massage oil whenever necessary. Also, do not be too aggressive when scraping the skin, as you do not want to end up doing more harm than good.
The scraping technique remains one of the most efficient methods for handling plantar fasciitis. The scraping of the skin has an amazing anti-inflammatory effect, modulating the response of the immune system at the same time. It is possible that, through scraping, one eliminates both the pain and inflammation caused by plantar fasciitis. However, this technique provides the best results when used in combination with other conservative treatments, such as orthotic inserts, night splints and special footwear.
Asking your physical therapist to show you how to perform the actual scraping of the skin is a very good idea. The physical therapist has both the necessary knowledge and practical experience to assist you in learning this rather efficient soft tissue mobilization technique. He/she can also teach you what movements should be avoided or how intense the scraping should actually be. You can discuss about your condition and request a complete program of physical exercises, recommended in particular for plantar fasciitis.
In conclusion, the scraping technique is great for people who suffer from plantar fasciitis. As you have seen, it requires specific tools, these being available online for purchase. Keep in mind that, by using scraping tools on a regular basis, you will actually break down the scar tissue accumulated around the plantar fascia. Thus, with no fascial restrictions, both the pain and inflammation you have experienced are going to disappear.
You are going to be pain-free, enjoying a regular and optimal range of motion. Do not hesitate to go online right now and take a good look at the scraping tools that are available for immediate purchase. And, remember, you can greatly improve your overall level of functionality by trying out myofascial scraping.