The Graston Technique is a type of manual therapy known as soft-tissue instrument-assisted mobilization. It is a type of method that addresses and treats soft tissue dysfunction by using stainless steel instruments. The stainless steel instruments can deliver more precise movement than hand techniques can alone. Chiropractors, physical therapists, massage therapists, athletic trainers, sports medicine doctors and other healthcare professionals use the Graston Technique to treat their patients.
What is the Graston Technique used for?
The main goal of the Graston Technique is to reduce the patient’s pain and increase mobility of the injured area. A buildup of scar tissue can form in the layers of tissue below the skin. This includes muscles, fascia, ligaments, and tendons. When this occurs, it can cause pain and tightness near the injury. The Graston Technique uses a handheld instrument to massage and scrape the area with the goal to smooth out the scar tissue and fascia. Evidence shows that rearranging the structure of the soft tissue can help promote healing and reduce restrictions that were initially caused by the injury.
What are the benefits?
Reducing patients’ pain and increasing range of motion is the most important benefit of the Graston Technique. It helps transform scar tissue build up into healthy tissue. Other benefits include:
- Promoting a faster rehabilitation/recovery
- Reducing the need for over the counter and prescription medication
- Relieving chronic conditions such as back and neck pain
- Decreasing treatment time
- Increase range of motion
What happens at an appointment?
Upon starting treatment, a patient will be asked to do a quick cardiovascular workout, such as riding a stationary bike or using a treadmill. This helps warm the body so the tissue is easier to work on and is more comfortable to the patient. Once the body is warm, the healthcare professional, typically a chiropractor, will rub the injured area with an instrument. The purpose of using the instrument as opposed to bare hands is to be able to deliver a more precise, calculated massage technique. It is common for a patient to feel sensitivity during the procedure because the instrument is helping to stretch the connective tissue.
What happens after an appointment?
Since the healthcare professional is literally breaking up damaged tissue throughout the body, it is normal for patients to feel sore, bruised or have small red dots over the treated area (called petechiae). Patients may want ice the area for 20 minutes to ease the discomfort. In addition to this type of treatment, patients usually start an exercise program to strengthen the injured area.
What Injuries can the Graston Technique treat?
Any injury that causes scar tissue to build up has the potential of being treated by the Graston Technique. These acute and chronic conditions include:
- Lower back and muscle strain
- Neck pain
- Achilles tendinitis
- Carpal tunnel
- Cervical sprain
- Plantar fasciitis
- Rotator cuff tendinosis
- Shin splints
- Tennis/golfer’s elbow
The Graston Technique is one of many types of manual therapy. If you suffer from chronic pain or another condition due to an injury, you may benefit from this treatment. The best way to find out is to make an appointment with a chiropractor for evaluation.