The Graston Technique is a form of manual therapy known as soft-tissue instrument-assisted mobilization. The technique is used to treat soft tissue injuries and orthopedic injuries that have a soft tissue component. It uses high-density stainless-steel instruments to assess and treat soft tissue dysfunction.
In this type of therapy, the practitioner runs the Graston instruments over the skin, using them to amplify the feeling of abnormal tissue texture and identify areas of restriction. The practitioner will then gently massage these problem areas with the instruments and attempt to break up the scar tissue.
Patients may find that the Graston Technique is more comfortable than traditional forms of manual therapy. Treatment usually lasts around ten minutes and can be used as a standalone or in conjunction with other treatments. Practitioners of the Graston Technique include chiropractors, osteopathic physicians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and some licensed massage therapists and athletic trainers.
Graston Technique Goals
Practitioners use the Graston Technique to:
- Break down scar tissue and fascia restrictions that are usually associated with some form of soft-tissue trauma (e.g., a strained muscle or a pulled ligament, tendon, or fascia)
- Reduce restrictions by stretching connective tissue and attempting to rearrange the injured tissue’s structure
- Promote a better healing environment for the injured soft tissue
Potential Benefits of Graston Therapy
The back is comprised of an intricate network of muscles, fascia, ligaments, and tendons. An injury to these soft tissues will significantly contribute to, if not cause, the pain and dysfunction of back problems. Even minor-sounding back injuries like muscle strain or a torn ligament can cause excruciating pain and difficulty with movement.
The Graston Technique offers several potential advantages to patients with these types of injuries:
- Decreased overall treatment time
- Faster rehabilitation/recovery
- Less discomfort than traditional forms of manual therapy
- Reduced need for anti-inflammatory medication
- Resolution of chronic conditions thought to be permanent
Patients treated with the Graston Technique also appear to experience a neurologic benefit similar to that involved with other manual therapies. Current literature suggests that this type of therapy activates certain nerve fibers. The body’s position sense organs, such as mechanoreceptors and proprioceptors, also seem to respond well to this form of treatment.