As a practicing occupational therapist and hand therapist I designed the tools to make my own clinical life easier and more efficient. I think these design elements will be apparent the moment you hold the tool in your hand. Each tool provides shapes that match muscular and body contours. The treatment edge balances precision and joint protection for the clinician and provides a comfortable experience for the client. Every tool is capable of palpating the most subtle textural abnormality. The shape of the treatment edge is designed to raise petechiae with minimal effort. Therefore, the clinician does not have to apply a great deal of pressure which minimizes stress on the user's hand. User comfort and safety is prioritized via ergonomic design and lightweight material.
Acute vs Chronic PainThe 2000 year old Traditional Chinese Medicine technique of gua sha challenges our perception of pain. Despite a lack of inflammation chronic soft tissue pain is often treated with rest, immobilization, ice, elevation, and compression in addition to anti-inflammatory medication. These strategies are appropriate for acute symptoms but ineffective with regard to chronic soft tissue pain. For additional information and a more in depth discussion regarding physiology and specific techniques we offer the treatment manual "Gua Sha; Clinical Applications for Chronic Soft Tissue Pain and Dysfunction".
Gua Sha, Inflammation and Healing
Petechiae appear similar to bruising which is why those unfamiliar with gua sha presume the technique is painful. However, petechiae are not bruises and in most cases raising petechiae coincides with decreased pain. The release of histamine and formation of petechiae stimulate a healing response. Gua sha increases circulation to hypoxic tissue where healing has failed and increases tissue temperature to facilitate stretching and restore flexibility.
Vasodilation of blood vessels occur in response to histamine. But relaxation of smooth muscle in not confined to blood vessels walls; fascia also contains smooth muscle fibers. Gua sha facilitates the release of abnormal fascial tone to relieve pain and improve function. And unlike medication the only side effect of gua sha is transient skin discoloration.
Gua sha predates all methods of treating soft tissue with an edged tool. It is evidence based and effective with regard to chronic soft tissue pain. Our uniquely shaped instruments match all body contours and feature a refined, sensitive treatment edge that is ideal for gua sha and all modern instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization techniques.
Gua Sha vs Modern IASTM
Gua sha's longevity is directly linked to its effectiveness. The evidence base supports gua sha as a valid method of addressing chronic soft tissue pain. Modern techniques deemphasize sha or petechiae and focus on elimination of abnormal tissue texture. While both models are valid success is diminished when petechiae begin to appear and treatment ends prematurely. Hesitancy to raise petechiae is common and can limit effectiveness.
The radius of the treatment edge or the relative sharpness of the edge determines how much pressure is needed to elicit a histamine response, raise petechiae and mobilize soft tissue.
The radius also determines how sensitive the tool is regarding palpation of scar or chronically affected soft tissue. If the edge is too sharp, it is uncomfortable for the client. But if the edge is too dull the ability to palpate is muted and the clinician must work harder and apply more pressure to raise petechiae. Our edge design strikes the perfect balance to provide both a safe and comfortable experience and allow the clinician to feel everything and mobilize soft tissue efficiently.
Our edge radius minimizes stress on the clinician's hand and maximizes the ability to palpate soft tissue irregularity. Our tools require very little pressure to elicit a histamine response and raise petechiae. The edge is perfectly smooth and rounded to maintain comfort and provide a safe and soothing experience for the client.
Each tool can provide a unique massage experience. The clinician can easily unlock the benefits of gua sha by gradually increasing pressure based on the client's level of comfort.
The edge is symmetrically beveled. Unlike a single beveled edge this allows the tool to be held in either the right or left hand.
Our tool shapes match the muscular contours of the body. This allows an even amount of pressure to be applied to the treated tissues. The evenly applied pressure is more comfortable for the client. And the treatment time is minimized because the tool treats a wider area of tissue to improve efficiency and minimize stress on the clinician's hand. A poorly shaped instrument will require more strokes to cover the same area.
Our tools are not heavy or bulky. Weight is reduced to minimize effort. Tools are relatively thin to enhance the ability to feel subtle abnormality within the soft tissue. Weight is further reduced with use of Zytel, a virtually unbreakable nylon polymer resin. Zytel is highly resistant to chemical damage allowing the use of any skin lubricant and choice of any disinfectant or cleaning solution. Zytel is rigid, extremely durable and very lightweight. Our confidence regarding durability merits a lifetime replacement guarantee if any tools are damaged.
Our Tools Versus Common Objects
In comparison to common objects like spoons, coins, or bottle caps, our instruments are comfortable and provide a safe and consistent edge that is never sharp, always the desired shape, professional in appearance and easy on the user's hand.
Versus Biological Materials
Unlike animal horn or wood our material is non-porous and does not soften when exposed to water. Therefore the tool can be thoroughly cleaned with soap and water or stronger chemical disinfectants. This feature ensures a safe instrument that can be used with multiple clients.
The shapes that can be achieved by carving biological material is limited. Modern manufacturing methods allow our tools to achieve the desired shape. In other words, one does not have to force the tool to fit the body.
In comparison to jade or other minerals our instruments are lightweight to reduce fatigue and will not shatter if accidently dropped.
Versus Metallic Tools
Unlike metal our tools are a poor conductor of both heat and electricity and more comfortable because they do not feel cold to the touch. Our proprietary composite material is much lighter than metal reducing user fatigue. Our material also offers a significant savings over metal tools.
Hawk Grip (above) = 7.7 ounces,
GOST-2 (below) = 1.3 ounces
The Gua Sha Professional Tools provide a handle to minimize stress on the user’s hand. The handle directs pressure into the larger, more stable joints and protects the thumb CMC joint. The small joints of the fingers are also protected from hyperextension and rest in a slightly flexed and stable posture. The handle allows the fingertips to rest lightly on the treatment blade enhancing palpation. The handle also allows the user to apply firm pressure with greater control.
Above, the Gua Sha Professional Tool places the thumb and fingers in a stable, flexed posture minimizing stress on the vulnerable thumb CMC and finger DIP joints. Larger joints support the tool while fingertips rest on the treatment blade to enhance palpation.
Above, a lateral or key pinch is used to hold a traditional flat profile gua sha tool made of animal horn. This places stress on the user's thumb carpal metacarpal (CMC) joint.
Above a jar lid forces the finger DIP joints into hyperextension compromising joint stability and stressing arthritic joints. In addition, the thumb is placed in a lateral pinch to stress the CMC joint.
About our Company
My name is Matthew Lott, I am the owner of Guashatools.com which was founded in 2005. I am a practicing occupational therapist and certified hand therapist. My education includes a BA in Biology from Hiram College and BS, MS in Occupational Therapy from D'Youville College.
I initially designed the GOST-1 and GOST-2 tools found here to make my own clinical life easier. Lynn Wallace, PT, my boss at the time, encouraged me to go into business. My work as an OT involves fabrication of custom braces. Using low temperature splint material I developed the ideal shapes and the treatment edge for the tools. The treatment manual Gua Sha; Clinical Applications for Chronic Soft Tissue Pain and Dysfunction is the result of years of using gua sha in my practice.
I personally handle all aspects of fulfilling your order and customer service. Never hesitate to contact me with questions. Orders are shipped on the same or next business day. Our products are locally produced in Kent, Ohio.
My hope is that clinicians will use the tools to help countless patients and those that endeavor to treat themselves will experience comfort and continue to pursue their goals. Enjoy!