Muscle Scraping For Bodybuilding

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In the world of bodybuilding, we’re always looking for the “next big thing” that will help us build more muscle and recover faster.

Surprisingly, muscle scraping (or IASTM) has shown some great benefits that could take your physique and strength to the next level!

In this article, we’ll explore how muscle scraping is one of the most effective ways to help you recover and increase your total output in the gym. 

Let’s begin!

Does Muscle Scraping Help Build Muscle?

Muscle scraping can help build muscle — but not directly.

It’s not like a magic pill where you start growing extra muscle on the body part you scrape — it’s more about what muscle scraping can do for your muscles in the gym…

What Does The Science Say?

A study done in 2017 split a group of experienced weightlifters into two groups. 

One group received 16 muscle scraping sessions over an 8-week training period, and the other group got “fake” muscle scraping done over the same amount of time.

The group that got real muscle scraping done actually had a significantly higher decrease in their RPE scales for their workouts than the “fake” muscle scraping group.

Their RPE for an 85% 1RM lift also dropped a lot after the study as when compared to before they started the muscle scraping treatments.

The subjective perceived exertion from the same intensity load (85% of 1RM) decreased, so this could affect changes in the weightlifting skill, strength gain, or neural control of the participants.1

This meant that they were able to lift more weight and get stronger with less effort, which we all know means higher potential for muscle gains!

How Does Muscle Scraping Help Bodybuilders With Recovery?

Another reason that muscle scraping is great for bodybuilding is because it helps us recover better and faster.

Recovery is super important for muscle growth since we break our muscles down in the gym and then want them to recover from the damage and come back bigger and stronger.

Muscle scraping has been shown to increase blood flow into our muscles, which encourages our body to start this healing process to the scraped site quicker.2

Activating this “repair mode” also helps us lower how bad our DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) is, meaning we can get back into the gym quicker and push harder more often!

IASTM has also been shown to be extremely safe, so it’s certainly not going to cause us any harm other than some mild discomfort at times.

Does Muscle Scraping Help With Performance?

Muscle scraping also helps to improve your range of motion and relax tight muscles.3

Putting your joints and muscles into a position where they move more freely with less restriction means that you have a better power output during your exercises.

On top of that, moving through a fuller range of motion trains your muscles more effectively causing better adaptations, which creates bigger gains.4

How Do You Muscle Scrape For Bodybuilding?

You don’t need to go to a clinic or get a specialist for muscle scraping — you can do it yourself at home!

Just remember a couple of things,

  • Tolerance — You don’t have to put yourself through excruciating pain to see the benefits, just begin by using a moderate pressure through the tool. 
  • Hydrate — Make sure to drink water and electrolytes after scraping to give your muscles some much-needed help to recover. 
  • Less Is More — Don’t beat your muscles up by scraping them as often as possible. If the scraped area is red, wait about 2-3 days before scraping again. 

Let’s check out the steps to get you scraping today!

1. Select The Right Tool

Muscle scraping tools come in many different shapes, sizes, and materials.

Since bodybuilders typically have larger surface areas to work on, using a tool like the Sidekick Bow is going to be an ideal choice.

Sidekick Bow Muscle Scraper For Bodybuilding

This is the largest muscle scraper ever created and is designed to be used on your quads, hips, and hammies after a tough leg day.

If you have the right tool, there really isn’t too many hard-to-reach locations (aside from the bottoms of your feet, for Plantar Fasciitis), which makes scraping at home much more convenient and affordable than seeing a physiotherapist.

I personally use the Sidekick Curve tool and am a big fan of their products!

Sidekick Curve Tool

This one’s a bit smaller, more affordable and is designed for your arms, neck, and shoulders.

I primarily use it for loosening up my ridiculously tight forearms and triceps, which helps me get into the front rack position much easier.

Feel free to check out my full Sidekick tool review for more details.

2. Apply Lotion

You want to apply some lotion to a tight or sore muscle to prepare it for scraping. 

This doesn’t have to be much at all — more does not mean better, and just enough to lubricate the skin is needed.

3. Start Scraping

You want to work your scraper across your muscle with a moderate force.

Choose one spot to work on and scrape in the same direction for about 10-20 seconds before moving onto the next area — you can always come back to a spot later on.

4. Reap The Benefits

People generally feel improvement after 4-7 sessions of muscle scraping, but that can differ from person to person.

The first time can be uncomfortable and a little painful, but this should change to relief after a couple times of doing this.


Bodybuilders are ideal candidates for muscle scraping due to their high training frequency and therefore the need for a speedy recovery.

Scraping helps by improving how well you perform in the gym, improving your range of motion, helping your muscles recover quicker, and improving your power output.

Although muscle scraping doesn’t magically grow new muscle mass, it is a fantastic way to optimize your recovery, so you can continue training hard enough to get the results you want!

Eric Richter, MSPT

Eric Richter, MSPT

I'm Eric, a physiotherapist with a Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology and a Master’s degree in Physiotherapy from the University Of Manitoba. I have enjoyed the better part of a decade working with both amateur and professional athletes as a physical therapist.I've also worked as a strength and conditioning coach at an MMA gym!

Learn more about me...

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