• Dr. James Fonner

Graston Tool: What You Need To Know

The Graston technique is a type of therapy that is often referred to as soft-tissue instrument-assisted mobilization. The technique is one of a variety of manual therapy approaches that makes use of special instruments to massage or scrape the skin gently. This form of therapy is aimed at allowing therapists to identify areas with restrictions and then proceed to break up the scar tissue.


Chiropractors, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and licensed massage therapists are the most common users of the Graston technique. They use the technique to treat their patients who have an injury or restrictions relating to an accumulation of scar tissue.


Goals of the Graston technique

Goals of the Graston Technique


The goal of the technique is to assist a patient in reducing their pain and increase function in the affected area by combining:

  • The breaking down of scar tissue and fascia restrictions that are generally associated with trauma to the soft tissue in the area. Examples of trauma include strained muscles and pulled ligaments, fascia, or tendons.

  • Stretching connective tissue to try and rearrange the structure of the damaged soft tissue in order to reduce the effects of restrictions. The types of soft tissue in question are muscles, fascia, ligaments, and tendons.

  • Promoting a more suitable environment for the injured soft tissue to heal.


Along with the benefits to the body, the Graston technique therapy has also been shown to have neurological benefits. Other manual therapy has been shown to have a similar effect in patients. Research shows that when a patient is given instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) therapy, certain nerve fibers are activated. Other than this, the position sense organs of the body also seem to respond.


Benefits of Graston Therapy


Most of an individual's back is made up of muscles, tendons, ligaments, and fascia. Injuries to any of these forms of soft tissue often play a major role in back problems. While injuries to the back may not seem too serious, a torn ligament in the back or back muscle strain can make movement next to impossible and cause severe amounts of pain.


The use of the Graston technique in these situations offers a host of benefits to a patient with an injury like this. Some of these advantages are:

  • A decrease in overall treatment time

  • Fostering rehabilitation and recovery

  • Reduced need for the use of anti-inflammatory medicine

  • The resolution of chronic problems is thought to be permanent


How the Graston Technique Works


The technique makes use of unique handheld instruments combined with a specialized type of massage that assists in breaking up scar tissue.


There are primarily six tools used in Graston therapy. The tools that are used are made of stainless steel and take on both concave and convex shapes. The instruments all have rounded edges to avoid causing any injury to a patient. Instruments are used by scanning over an affected place, subsequently identifying injuries, and finding damaged fibrotic tissue. Manual therapy is designed to both identify and treat injured areas, making it an excellent treatment method.


The Graston technique also makes use of physical massage therapy. A cross-friction method is used; this method involves rubbing against the grain of the scar tissue, reintroducing small amounts of trauma to the affected place. This can cause temporary inflammation to the area that causes the blood flow to the muscles to be increased. The basis of this technique is that the increased blood flow to the affected areas initiates a healing process.


Treatment is often administered to related areas along the kinetic chain. This means that the treatment is also administered to the hip flexors, abdomen, and any other body part directly connected to the affected areas that may experience some pain. The stainless steel tools are extremely effective at treating scar tissue and relieving pain in the areas.


About soft tissue mobilization

Does Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM) Break Up Scar Tissue?


The Graston technique employs the use of instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization to treat connective tissue. The treatment has been shown to relieve pain as well as break up damaged tissue and allows it to once again become soft tissue. Patients who have undergone the therapy have noted that it does work and is extremely successful at treating an injury relating to a muscle.


Damaged tissue often causes specific problems such as limited movement. Patients may choose to undergo manual therapy, often noting major physical improvements. The unique tools used in the treatment process work by providing a sort of massage to help promote a better healing process to the damaged tissue. Certified practitioners of the technique know the best way to administer the Graston technique to the skin to improve movement and provide the best results for a patient.


The tools used are designed in an extremely specific manner to provide better muscle regeneration and healing. Certified therapists know how to use them properly and are able to see the affected areas and help to improve the health of the affected muscle. The instruments are used in manual therapy to rub against the affected areas. A patient may experience some pain through the process, as the treatment involves using the instruments to scrape against the tissue. The pain is usually not too severe and does cause more blood to flow to the injured muscle. The Graston technique is one of the most effective manual therapy techniques available.


Patients tend to make use of this treatment as well as spinal decompression therapy for pain as a result of a back injury. The back is built of a large number of muscles, all of which can become strained or undergo an injury. Treating the back is done through manual massage techniques as this has shown to be better than using other methods. By using the Graston technique's instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization treatment, patients tend to note a decrease in pain and that the muscles in their back often seem to work much better. The treatment is often used to treat sporting injuries as these can cause a lot of pain and often restrict what patients are able to do.


Healing Related to the Graston Technique


Patients who choose to have the Graston technique administered by a certified therapist may note an improvement to their health relatively quickly. The health of the affected muscle often improves drastically due to the manual technique. Patients tend to see an improvement in their mobility as well as a reduction of pain in the muscle. The Graston technique works like a massage to help an injured body part. It relaxes the muscle as well as improving the blood flow to the affected muscle.


A massage in general is known to help tremendously with the health of one's muscles. Massage patients often see that their muscles feel much more supple and that the health of it seems to be of a much higher standard. The feeling after getting a massage is just like the feeling after using the Graston technique. The manual treatment has worked wonders for the health of a multitude of patients, with many coming back for the treatment of similar injuries in the future.


The Graston technique reduces the pain experienced by the individual significantly, and as a result, may cause them to like the therapy. With the pros related to its health bonuses. Many athletes and people who are generally physically active may choose to undergo the treatment often as Graston therapy is great for pain. The instrument-assisted soft tissue treatment is great for any muscle-related injury and because of this, sees many patients making use of it all over the world along with mid-back stretches.


Medical practitioners who administer the Graston technique swear by its effectiveness is one of the primary treatment techniques that they use for the treatment of pain and limited mobility. Pain in any form is uncomfortable and the type that comes along with limited movement can be even more frustrating. For this reason, many who experience these sort of injuries may turn to the Graston technique for relief.


Use of the Graston Technique


It is important to note that this technique is generally made use of for the treatment of pain and muscle injuries that cause pain. It cannot be utilized for general health purposes and you should seek the advice of your general practitioner before making any health-related decisions. Should your practitioner or personal injury chiropractor advise you to consider this form of therapy then it is an option you should consider. Not everyone is a fan of the therapy and it is not suited for everyone.


With this being said, the therapy is still extremely effective and is utilized by athletes to treat injuries. The treatment is especially effective for minor muscle injuries; however, cannot be utilized for the treatment of major muscle injuries where an operation may be required. Should an ailment be so severe that you need an operation, the Graston technique may not be of much use to you and it is advised that you seek assistance as soon as possible. Say goodbye to limited mobility and pain with the Graston technique.

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