What is the Best Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization Tool for You?
By Nadia Lessard, Registered Massage Therapist
Recently, the Health Industry has seen a huge influx of home recovery tools. Just to name a few, we have foam rollers, lacrosse balls, suction cups, and massage guns. All of these tools are very accessible and easy to use. Now, there is a new addition to the recovery team: Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM) tools. Our favourites are the Sidekick Tools.
The Sidekick Tools are IASTM tools or muscle scrapers that are designed to increase blood flow to a painful area or areas of concern while also improving recovery. The Sidekick Tools are very similar to Gua Sha, a traditional Chinese healing method that has been used to treat chronic pain. Stride recently started carrying Sidekick Tools and the models we carry include: the Curve, the Echo, the Eclipse, and the Bow.
Each Sidekick tool varies in size, shape, and material. Different tools are important for different body parts or for treating specific issues. Overall, the Sidekick Tools all have the same therapeutic effects:
- Increased range of motion
- Relieve tension or stiffness
- Reduce pain
- Improve recovery time
Let’s take a look at each individual muscle scraping tool to see which one is best for you!
The Curve Sidekick Tool
The Curve Sidekick Tool is made of Bian stone. The stone makes it a bit more budget friendly and it is quite comfortable when you glide it on your skin, but the stone also makes the tool more delicate and easily breakable. As a Registered Massage Therapist, I recommend the Curve to people with tight shoulders or neck muscles. For years, I have been trying to show clients how to use a lacrosse ball to massage their neck and shoulders, but the area can be a little tricky to reach. The Curve is an alternative. It is the perfect size to treat these smaller areas easily and with minimal effort.
The Echo Sidekick Tool
The Echo is a similar shape to the Curve but it has slightly different size edges and is made of stainless steel. Due to the stainless steel material, it is heavier than the Curve, which makes it a little more aggressive on the skin. The Echo can be used for arm pain, neck and shoulder issues, knee pain, and is also great to use prior to any activity to prevent injuries. Some common conditions that the Echo can help treat are:
- Golfer’s elbow
- Tennis elbow
- Neck and shoulder pain
- IT band issues
- Back tightness
- Plantar fasciitis
The Eclipse Sidekick Tool
The Eclipse is the perfect IASTM tool to treat smaller areas, specifically the feet and calves. Many of us have suffered from plantar fasciitis or shin splints over the years. But these conditions don’t always surface due to fitness injuries. Things like changing footwear or spending a lot of time standing can trigger the inflammation. Massaging your calves has been proven to help in the healing process of these conditions. A foam roller is often what I have recommended patients to use to reduce the symptoms, but if you are looking for a less awkward and physically demanding therapy, the Eclipse is your tool.
The Bow Sidekick Tool
The Bow is the largest of our Sidekick Tools. The Bow is designed to be used on bigger areas such as the quads, hips, IT band, and hamstrings. I have seen it being used on backs as well. The Bow provides a lot of coverage on a treatment area which can save you time and energy. The handles on either side of the Bow makes it easier to glide over these big areas. I would recommend this one for anyone suffering from knee or hip pain.
How to Use Your Scraping Tool at Home
Now that you have learned about the different Sidekick Tools we carry, check out this quick video below to learn about how to use your scraping tool.
With all scraping tools, you want to use medium pressure on a painful area or areas of concern for a total of a few minutes. Remember, seeing red on the skin is a great sign when using scraping tools!
Depending on your budget and area of concern, one tool might suit your needs better than the others. If I were to recommend one Sidekick Tool, the Echo is by far my favorite. I personally own one and I have been carrying it everywhere I go. I have used it on my neck, shoulders, quads, IT Bands, hips, low back, calves and plantar fascia. I even brought it with me to a CrossFit competition in my carry-on and made it through security without any problem!
I hope this helped you learn more about the family of Sidekick Tools. If you are looking to take a more active role in your recovery and health, grab one and try it for yourself! Stop by the clinic or book an appointment online with one of our Registered Massage Therapists to learn more by clicking here.