The Graston Technique is a newer approach to treating soft tissue injuries. The purpose of the Graston Technique is to remove or “break up” scar tissue in stiff, over-used, injured muscles (similar to the purpose of Active Release Technique). Graston is also designed to treat dysfunction in ligaments, tendons and the impact of injury on other tissues like nerves and cartilage. To perform the Graston Technique, the practitioner uses stainless-steel instruments that have been carefully designed to contour different areas of the body. The Graston tools are very effective at assisting the practitioner in finding areas of scar-tissue and tissue fibrosis. Certified providers of the Graston Technique are trained to scan injuries for scar tissue build-up. This allows previously undetected areas of dysfunction to be effectively treated. Similar to how a stethoscope amplifies what a practitioner can hear, the Graston instrument amplifies what is felt by the practitioners hand. Once found, the practitioner can break down the dysfunctional scar tissue using the appropriate Graston tool for that area of the body. The small amount of inflammation created by the treatment process “re-starts” the healing process. Patients receiving the Graston technique are usually given specific instructions (such as stretching or strengthening) to help promote the formation of healthy, normal, functional tissue. The Graston technique has been thoroughly researched at many Universities and has become a standard treatment approach for many professional sports organizations and professional athletes worldwide.
What is scar tissue?
When muscles, tendons and ligaments are over-used, shortened or stressed for an extended period of time, their blood supply can be diminished. As a result, the tissue doesn’t receive as much oxygen. As a response to low oxygen, our body places scar tissue in the area to help compensate. Scar tissue does not require as much oxygen to survive. Unfortunately, scar tissue is not as functional as normal tissue; it is more sticky and inflexible. As a result, scar tissue creates adhesions between and within muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves and fascia, similar to that of dried paint on the bristles of a paintbrush. Soft tissues subjected to scar tissue build-up usually show decreased flexibility, decreased performance and pain.
Is Graston for me?
Treatment using the Graston instrument is not for everyone. Consulting with a knowledgeable practitioner who is experienced in using the Graston technique is important. Typically, the Graston technique is effective in treating chronic injuries where the tissue has matured in a dysfunctional state. For example, if you’ve had a soft tissue injury for more than one month and you’ve never tried the Graston Technique, it may be something suitable for you.