What Is the Graston Technique

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

Many people have used the Graston technique to relieve some of their worst inflammation and chronic pain, but before you try out this alternative therapy, there are a few things you should understand.

What is the Graston Technique?

Graston technique is a type of soft tissue mobilization using various instruments that can help to alleviate discomfort in a similar way to acupuncture and massage. With the use of stainless steel tools and rods, this technique consists of pulling, pushing, and manipulating these tools around the areas of soft tissue damage, particularly scar tissue. By causing micro-abrasions in the scar tissue, this technique is believed to break up that scar tissue and stimulate the healing process. Scar tissue is non-functional tissue that can limit motion and result in pain, as well as exacerbate other joint and movement issues. This therapy seeks to overcome those problems and boost overall health. [1]

A woman holding her knee in pain

Knee pain may be the result of an injury but Graston technique may help relieve pain. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

How to Use?

Similar to dry needling or acupuncture, the Graston technique targets problem areas within the body, typically those related to scar tissue and previous injuries. The applications of these stainless steel tools and rods to the body can be temporarily painful, but the long-term effects are worth it. As the scar tissue is broken up, circulation to those areas can improve and the soft tissue can regain some of its mobility and function. [2]

For those patients who are hypersensitive to pain or massages, the tools can be used very lightly at first to desensitize the tissue, and force can gradually be increased until the therapy is effective. This is not an immediate fix for the problems of scar tissue, particularly if the scar tissue has been present for years or decades. Instead, most experts recommend 1-2 sessions per week for a 4-6 week period, which should generate some measurable results for those who want help. [3]

Benefits of the Graston Technique

The many benefits of the Graston technique include the following impressive list:

  • Lateral epicondylosis
  • Shin splints
  • Trigger finger relief
  • Post-mastectomy pain
  • Cesarean scarring
  • Decrease in treatment and recovery time
  • Reduce OTC painkiller dependency
  • Chronic conditions
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Bruising
  • Knee weakness
  • Achilles tendinosis
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Cervical sprain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Lumbar sprain
  • Medial epicondylosis
  • Patellofemoral disorders
  • Rotator cuff tendinosis
  • Scar tissue reduction

Side Effects

Despite the many obvious benefits of using this technique, there are some potential side effects, including the following: [4]

  • Skin redness
  • Bruising

The former is typically due to the release of tension in those particular tissues, while the bruising may be a sign that your practitioner was a bit too aggressive during the treatment. Icing the sore areas and doing ample stretching after these sessions can help to quickly eliminate these side effects.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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