What The Heck Is Graston Technique?
Graston Technique: No pain, no gain?
Medieval torture device or therapeutic healing method? Graston® – also known as IASTM or ‘myofascial scraping’ – feels like a bit of both. It’s an instrument-assisted method of breaking down scar tissue and eliminating muscle adhesions, increasing blood flow and promoting a better healing environment.
It’s not exactly the most relaxing method of treatment I use at Ascent Chiropractic, but it gets incredible results for difficult soft tissue conditions.
The technique works by producing microtrauma in problematic myofascia – the connective tissue that covers every muscle in your body. This stimulates a localized inflammatory process, initiating the breakdown of unhealthy scar tissue and promoting tissue remodeling and healthy tissue production. Myofascial problems can occur following surgery or overuse, such as running, throwing, repetitive motions at work, or even sitting at a desk for hours at a time. They can also develop with lack of use, such as with extended splinting, bracing or casting.
Treatment generally consists of first lubricating the skin with emollient and then applying cross-friction massage to the affected area(s) with a handheld stainless steel tool, using techniques specific to whatever muscle tissue you’re working on. It’s quick – it usually only takes about 30 to 60 seconds per area treated.
Graston works especially well for treating sports injuries like plantar fasciitis, IT band syndrome, carpal tunnel syndrome, elbow tendonitis and rotator cuff, calf and hamstring injuries.
But while it’s amazingly effective at fixing difficult-to-treat soft tissue injuries, sometimes the process of breaking up scar tissue and myofascial adhesions hurts like hell. Last week, as I was working on a NCAA track athlete patient’s chronically tight hamstrings, he quipped (through gritted teeth):
“I know I’m going to be able to move 10x better when I walk out of here, but I can’t believe I willingly pay to get tortured like this!”
Why Use Graston Myofascial Release?
1. It can treat chronic soft tissue conditions. Some of the most difficult-to-treat conditions are chronic soft tissue problems, which is where IASTM really excels. Many of these are assumed to be permanent conditions, but improve quickly after a few sessions.
- Achilles tendinopathy
- Carpal Tunnel syndrome
- Frozen shoulder
- Golfer’s elbow
- Tennis elbow
- Low back strain
- Patellofemoral disorders
- Post-surgical pain/scar tissue
- Rotator cuff injuries
- Plantar fasciitis
- Shin splints
- IT Band syndrome
For example, in a 2014 study, Indiana State University researchers found that patients with chronic plantar fasciitis had significantly better improvements in foot pain, function and health with 6 weeks of Graston treatment compared to those that received massage therapy or no treatment at all.
Another study from the Journal of Physical Therapy Science found that just 4 weeks of Graston treatment reduced chronic low back pain by nearly 50% and improved range of motion significantly.
2. When It Works, It Works Quickly. If Graston therapy is going to work the results should happen quickly. Regardless of whether your injury is chronic or acute, you really should see significant results within in about 6 treatments. If you do not see results quickly, then it’s something that’s not likely going to work for your specific condition and your treatment plan will need to be re-evaluated.
3. Reduced Pain & Better Range of Motion. Studies conducted utilizing the Graston Technique have shown huge improvements in pain reduction and function after treatment. Compared to more conservative treatments, patients feel less pain and have significantly better range of motion after Graston treatment.
4. Minimizes DOMS Post-Workout Symptoms. If you’ve ever had a particularly tough day at the gym, you’re probably familiar with delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS. DOMS refers to the discomfort you feel in your muscles, typically about 24 to 48 hours after physical activity that can last up to 72 hours after exercise. DOMS is a result of microtears in muscle tissue, and Graston therapy can help accelerate the body’s repair of those muscle fibers.
The Ascent Chiropractic Difference
Whether you’re a pro athlete or a weekend warrior, there’s a reason thousands of patients in the Milwaukee area call Ascent Chiropractic when they’re dealing with pain. We’re experts in musculoskeletal conditions and will help you figure out exactly what’s going on and how to get you out of pain as fast as possible.
Suffering from a soft tissue injury, or have friends or family members that could benefit from what we do at Ascent Chiropractic? Looking at the excellent clinical track record of what we do, it’s a no-brainer. To get started, make an appointment at Ascent Chiropractic in Brookfield by calling 262-345-4166 or schedule an appointment with our online scheduling app.