What is the Graston Technique?

Greetings, dear readers

Pain is not always caused by disease or direct injury. Sometimes, more often than not, the root of significant physical discomfort can be found in the every day wear and tear that everyone experiences throughout the course of their life. A fact that may be hard to believe, considering just how inconvenient lingering aches and pains can be. In trying to repair itself, the body can end up creating longer lasting damage such as scar tissue or myofascial adhesion. And sometimes the only person that can help a patient afflicted with this form of tissue dysfunction is a qualified practitioner wielding a specialised tool. That practitioner should be both qualified to perform the Graston Technique and to use an IASTM tool.

graston-1
The Graston Technique can be combined with Hijama (cupping) or performed separately as a form of treatment (1)

Before any of that can make sense, a brief explanation of connective tissue is required. Every day, the body suffers some degree of physical trauma, ranging from occasional major cellular damage caused by sports injuries or surgery to the more frequent micro-trauma resulting from repetitive daily actions such as turning the head or climbing the stairs. The effects of such actions can be influenced by factors such as age, diet and lifestyle. In response to this damage, cells must form extra connective tissue, known as collagen, to remain attached to each other. However, when repairing deep wounds and minor tears alike, the body sometimes produces excess amounts of collagen that does not follow the natural direction of muscle fibres and skin cells. Instead it connects cells in a randomised way, disturbing local nerves in the affected area, reducing range of motion and often causing pain. This is referred to as scar tissue or myofascial adhesions, which can be detected by skilled practitioners as they palpate their patient.

tissue_progression_sm
How it occurs, stage by stage (2)

Though it is possible to reduce myofascial adhesion and encourage the movement of bodily tissue using their hands alone, some practitioners opt to use Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilisation or IASTM tools. By doing so, they usually aim to achieve their previous treatment goals whilst minimising the effort needed in order to do so and preserving the health of their own hands and joints in the process. IASTM tools are used to locate and treat myofascial adhesions and the effects of chronic inflammation in a way that is similar to the Chinese method of Gua Sha. Usually made of dense stainless steel, they are shaped to access numerous structures of the body, particularly deep layers of skin, muscles and the natural connective tissue in between known as fascia.

graston
Believe it or not, these tool were made to heal, not hurt … too much (3)

Practitioners performing the Graston Technique use IASTM tools to remove scar tissue, manually instead of surgically, and treat both acute and chronic soft tissue injuries, tissue dysfunction and hypertonicity or tightened muscles. This is achieved by inflicting controlled micro-trauma upon the affected tissues and stimulating a localised inflammatory response, leading to increased blood circulation within the area and prompting the body to reabsorb excess or misplaced scar tissue. Professional application of the Graston Technique can result in increased range of motion and flexibility as well as pain reduction. Many patients prefer it simply because it is a non-invasive, drug free and quicker form of treatment capable of yielding positive results almost immediately. The technique has been an effective means of treating those who suffer from:

  • Lower back or lumbar complaints
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Achillies Tendonitis
  • Plantar Fascitis
  • Golfer’s Elbow
  • Tennis Elbow
  • IT Band Syndrome

Some individuals with myofascial adhesion do not get diagnosed correctly or at all. Which is why it is important to recognise a few of its common signs, including limited movement, pain during motion, dull, hot chronic muscle or joint aches and limb cramping, tingling or numbness. After successfully diagnosing a patient, qualified practitioners usually decide upon a treatment plan, taking into consideration that the longer an injury has existed, the longer it may take to treat. Acute injuries often respond quicker to the Graston Technique than their chronic counterparts, since the level of cell damage is limited to the period of time that it is allowed to go untreated.

We hope that this information has benefitted you, our dear readers, and we would love to hear from you. Comments, questions and weekly topic suggestions are always welcomed and greatly appreciated.

Thank you for reading!

The Pure Therapy Team

Images referenced from:
(1) http://www.glendalept.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/graston-1.jpg
(2) http://www.robertsonfamilychiro.com/images/tissue_progression_sm.jpg
(3) http://backstrong.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/graston.jpg

3 thoughts on “What is the Graston Technique?

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