How the Graston Technique Can Help You Feel Your Best
Graston technique is a form of Instrument-Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM) often used by physical therapists when treating injuries involving soft tissue damage, including muscles and tendons.
How does it work?
There are 6 different Graston tools in a variety of shapes to help treat different areas of the body based on tissue composition. The instruments are very helpful compared to using the clinician’s hands because they can help detect abnormal tissue textures or bumps that are present in muscles. This can help the physical therapist better detect the problem area and also help the patient to recognize areas that are contributing to their pain.
How does it Help?
IASTM is often used to help treat inflamed tendons or fascia from overuse injuries, areas that are painful from sprains, areas that are tight from surgical scars, or areas that are causing nerves to be entrapped. This includes commonly known injuries such as tennis elbow, Achilles pain, plantar fasciitis, ankle sprains, and carpal tunnel, just to name a few.
In addition to helping find the areas that feel abnormal, there are many scientific reasons that IASTM is beneficial. IASTM has been proven to increase the activity of fibroblasts which are the cells that help produce collagen which makes up connective tissues, facilitating the healing of injured tissues. Additionally, the pressure applied when using IASTM causes the cells to respond and communicate more – the pressure to the area helps to increase blood flow which helps to increase the healing process.
The increased blood flow from IASTM can immediately provide temporary pain relief as well as improve the flexibility of the area. This then allows the patient to complete exercises or stretches with diminished or abolished pain as well as through an increased range of motion which can help improve recovery time.
Is the Graston technique right for me?
A typical treatment session at Excel that involves IASTM may start with a warm-up to get the treatment area moving – this can be active such as on a bicycle or passive such as with heat while in a stretch depending on the patient. Excel’s model allows for hands-on time and one-on-one time with the therapist to discuss causes of pain and activities that are difficult. If IASTM is appropriate, the therapist will spend a few minutes working on the area. IASTM can be applied while the patient is resting, while the physical therapist is stretching the patient, or even while the patient is doing an exercise depending on the stage of the injury. After IASTM, the patient will go through a series of exercises specific to their diagnosis and functional limitations. IASTM may help to reduce pain with these activities and allow the patient to use their muscles more efficiently to better heal.
At Excel Physical Therapy, the Graston Technique is one of many tools in our toolbox. If you are recovering from an injury or experiencing muscle aches and pain, give us a call for a complimentary screening at one of our 35 convenient locations.
Caroline Hodgins, PT, DPT
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