The Graston Technique®

For patients with repetitive stress injuries, there are a few different treatment options available, including massage, the Active Release Technique (ART), and the magic bullet: the Graston Technique®.

While no one therapeutic method works for every patient in every case, the Graston Technique is a proven method of resolving soft-tissue problems, and ending chronic pain. By straightening “twisted” and scarred muscle fibers and getting them back into proper alignment, the Graston Technique gets your muscles working the way they are supposed to.

What Causes Soft Tissue Pain?

When muscles, tendons, and ligaments get overused or injured, they can become damaged. Healthy muscle fibers lie parallel to one another, and slide easily when they are used. Damaged fibers become splayed haphazardly, and rough areas that become scar tissue or myofascial adhesions form in the muscle fibers. This causes the muscle fibers to get caught and adhesed to one another and lead to inflammation, pain, and dysfunction.

A good way to visualize this damage is to think of a paintbrush. A brand-new paintbrush has bristles that lie flat, and are in line with each other. However, after that paintbrush has been used several times, especially if it is not properly cared for between uses, the bristles become clogged and tangled. A similar effect happens with muscle fibers when they are overused.

What Is The Graston Technique?

An effective, non-invasive procedure, the Graston Technique involves using special stainless-steel tools to scan the affected area of the patient’s body, to locate adhesions, or areas where scar tissue has built up. These tools, which are made in several different sizes to accommodate different body parts, are then used to gently smooth the muscle fibers back into place, and break up those adhesions.

The Graston Technique is very similar in effect to the Active Release Technique; the main difference is that practitioners use tools rather than their hands. The Graston Technique can be used to treat a wide variety of painful myofascial conditions such as tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, plantar fasciitis, and hamstring pulls. It is mostly utilized by chiropractors, physical therapists, and athletic trainers who have been specially trained in the method.

What To Expect During Treatment

At your first visit, your health care practitioner will conduct an initial assessment to determine the nature of the injury, and what the best treatment option will be. If it is decided that the Graston Technique will be helpful, the practitioner will begin by “scanning” the affected area with a Graston tool to find adhesions. These areas will feel rough and “gravelly” instead of smooth, indicating that the muscle fibers are adhesed. Once these areas are found, the practitioner will apply some light lubricant to your skin, and use that same tool to work out the scar tissue.

In some cases, your practitioner may ask you to move the affected area while treatment is being administered. Especially for sports injuries, treating the injured muscle while it is being used can make the procedure even more effective. Often, the pain is alleviated immediately!

Although the Graston Technique may sound painful, most patients report that it’s a ’good hurt‘, rather than terrible pain. There will probably be some discomfort, but in most cases it’s a relief to have your muscles and other soft tissue realigned. There may be some light bruising, especially if you have particularly sensitive skin, but this will clear up over a few days.

The most amazing aspect of the Graston Technique is how quickly it works. One session, after the initial exam has been conducted, takes only about fifteen minutes, and many patients report significant improvement after only one treatment! Usually only a few sessions are required to completely resolve the problem. Especially when used in conjunction with the Active Release Technique, the Graston Technique can provide truly astonishing results.

And this is not just a temporary solution. The Graston Technique really breaks up the scar tissues, and realigns the fibers back to parallel. Muscle fibers have been studied under a microscope before-and-after Graston Technique and the images are truly remarkable, transformed from a knotty, tangled mess, into a smoothly aligned formation.

If you’ve been dealing with pain due to trigger finger, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, frozen shoulder, plantar fasciitis (just to name a few) or any other soft-tissue damage, consider finding a practitioner who is trained in the Graston Technique. This gentle, effective therapy could be just the solution you’ve been looking for!

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