What Is Graston Technique?

The Graston Technique is a manual therapy used by chiropractors, physical therapists and other health care professionals. It is designed to help break down and release scar tissue in order to facilitate healing. Graston advocates say that it reduces need for anti-inflammatory medication and can relieve chronic conditions thought to be permanent.

Where Did Graston Come from?

Gastron TechniqueThe Graston Technique was developed by David Graston, an athlete who had suffered an injury that had not improved with conventional treatments.

He used his knowledge of machinery to develop a set of tools to assist in manual therapy. The idea of manual treatments like deep-tissue massage are not new of course.

This type of soft tissue work was pioneered by an orthopedic surgeon named Dr. James Cyriax.

The Graston Technique is also sometimes referred to as Instrument-Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization and Graston Augmented Soft Tissue Mobilization.

How Does Graston Technique Work?

Graston has been shown to be beneficial for tendinitis, sprains, back pain, fibromyalgia and adhesive capsulitis, also known as frozen shoulder. Graston Technique works by:

  • Stretching connective tissue and muscle fibers, while breaking up fibrous tissue;
  • Increasing skin temperature and blood flow in the area, speeding up the healing process;
  • Changingpainful chronic muscle holding patterns created by injury or overuse, and
  • Increasing cellular activity in the area and the histamine response, part of the body’s natural healing process.

What Can I Expect From a Graston Session?

A typical treatment session will begin with several minutes of stretching and warm up exercises. The method itself involves rubbing the affected area with the handheld stainless- steel Graston instruments, following very specific, calculated massage techniques. Each section is massaged for 30 to 60 seconds.

Because this does break up scar tissue, you can expect some level of discomfort or even pain. Following treatments, the practitioner may use heat or ice to help relax the muscles and relieve pain. The average treatment plan is twice a week for 4 to 5 weeks.

How Is Graston Technique Different from Massage?

The patented Graston instruments help relieve tension for the practitioner. They are able to perform treatments easier with assistances from the devices. The devices also allow the practitioner to identify problem areas quickly and effectively. The treatment is then concentrated in those specific areas.

Who Can Provide Graston Treatment?

The Graston Technique and instrumentation may only be used by licensed health care practitioners who have completed the 12 hour Graston training program. Their website includes a list of approved providers. There are a number of similar manual therapies available, including Active Release Technique, physical therapy and neuromuscular electrical stimulation. Make sure you ask for Graston Technique by name.

Is Graston an Approved Method?

Some have referred to this method as FDA approved. However, Graston Technique is not currently listed on the FDA website under approved medical devices. The official Graston website does list a number of clinical studies which show the benefits of using this therapy for a variety of conditions.

As with any complementary and experimental treatment, it is important to consult your medical doctor before trying Graston Technique.