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What exactly is the Graston technique?

According to WebMD, the Graston Technique is a type of manual therapy. It is also called instrument-assisted soft-tissue mobilization (IASTM). The therapy involves the use of tools to massage or scrape skin. It is performed by chiropractors, physicians, physiotherapists, trainers, and other therapists.

Goals of the Graston technique

The main goals involve minimizing pain and boosting function using a combination of:

  • Breakdown of scar tissue that is generally due to some kind of trauma. This could be a strained muscle or a stretched or torn ligament, tendon, or muscle.
  • Increased movement through connective tissue stretching. This is important to change the structure of the soft tissue involved.
  • Promotion of a healthy environment for tissue healing.


The human back is made of muscles, ligaments, tendons and tissue fascia. Trauma to such soft tissues can result in different problems. These can include pain, poor function, and other back problems. A common misconception is that muscle strains are not serious injuries. In fact, a muscle strain can result in horrible pain and difficulty in moving. Overall, this technique provides many advantages including:

  • Reducing total treatment time.
  • Promoting quicker recovery.
  • Decreasing the reliance on anti-inflammatory medicines.
  • Helping chronic conditions that are considered permanent.

Studies suggest that IASTM therapy can activate some nerve fibers. Also, the body's mechanoreceptors and proprioceptors are also affected positively with such treatments.

How does it work?

This technique is part of the spinal adjustment. In addition, it uses special handheld instruments, along with a unique type of massage. Both are important to help a chiropractor find areas with issues and break down the scar tissue.

What tools are used in the technique?

There are six main tools in this. They are designed with stainless steel and can be convex or concave. The tools have round edges which are not sharp. Moreover, they can scan over and find spots of traumatic fibrotic tissue.

What is Graston massage?

This is a type of cross-friction technique. It means brushing or scrubbing the scar tissue. A chiropractor puts a small degree of trauma to the scarred area. Sometimes, this spinal adjustment can result in inflammation. This also improves the rate and degree of blood flow surrounding the area. The idea is that this helps start and continue the healing process.

This spinal adjustment focuses on the kinetic chain. Consequently, a patient who has back pain can also get treatment for their other muscles. These include the hip muscles, abdominal muscles, hamstrings, shoulders, and other parts of the body. Most people consider the muscles independent of each other. But they are all connected through the fascia and can be treated together as well.

So, what should I expect from this technique?

The general course of treatment for lower back pain can last 1 to 10 sessions. This takes part over a time span of several weeks. No medicines are needed along with this manual spinal adjustment. Patients getting therapy using the Technique should expect:

Before treatment

Before any treatment, people should try and perform five minutes of daily activity. Generally, this could range from riding an exercise bike to using a treadmill. On the chiropractor's suggestion, ultrasound or heat therapy can also be used. This helps to warm up the tissues to make treatment more effective.

During treatment

The chiropractor will use the right Graston technique instruments. These will try to scan and treat the injured area. Therapy usually involves the chiropractor brushing the injured area(s). The total treatment time can be half a minute or one whole minute for each area treated. Patients can expect to face some slight pain or discomfort during the treatment.

After treatment

Patients can expect to deal with some soreness, bruising or tiny red breakouts. Generally, these surround or cover the treated area. The spots are actually petechiae. Should somebody experience any soreness after the procedure, use ice application. This should be done for 15-20 minutes following the treatment may ease the discomfort.

Patients should do any exercise, stretching, as well as physical regimens. These in combination with the Graston technique yield the best results. As a result, this allows you to help heal the back and other tissues quicker and more efficiently.

With treatment successfully completed, patients can expect to see an improved range of motion. Furthermore, it reduces pain by a great deal. Pillars of Wellness can help you get in touch with the right chiropractor to get you the help you need.


The technique has the potential to treat acute and chronic conditions such as:

  • Lower back pain.
  • Any muscle strain or sprain.
  • Achilles tendinosis.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Neck muscle strain or sprain.
  • Plantar fasciitis.
  • Rotator cuff tendinitis.
  • Shin splints.
  • Tennis or golfer's elbow.

What about any contraindications?

Not all people who deal with pain from soft-tissue trauma can use the Graston technique. So, this technique is not ideal for people with any condition that shouldn't involve tissue mobilization. Also, people with the following problems should avoid using this technique:

  • Open wounds surrounding the injured area.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Tumors or cancer (size as well as location are important factors).
  • Pregnancy.
  • Untreated, complicated fractures.
  • Specific kinds of kidney disorders.
  • Conditions requiring blood thinners.

How the Graston technique helped Ruth overcome her disability

Ruth injured her hamstring back in January 2015. Because of the pain and stiffness, she was essentially helpless. Having found no treatments effective, Ruth came across the Graston technique. She then got in touch with a chiropractor.

Since her treatment, Ruth has been able to walk without pain or difficulty. Pillars of Wellness is a clinic in Burlington. The clinic provides patients with services like chiropractic, yoga, physical therapy etc. All in all, people with chronic pain or other issues can make use of any of these services. For treatment, book an appointment now and start your journey on the road of recovery today!

Laurent Pinci
Laurent Pinci
Pillars of Wellness is a truly Integrated Healthcare Centre providing a high degree of collaboration and communication among health providers.