Graston therapy is a hot topic in orthopedic and professional sporting circles. This simple therapy – a tool-based massage method – is revolutionizing how soft tissue injuries are treated and rehabilitated. Learn more about this effective therapy and how Graston technique can benefit your health and athletic goals.
What is Graston Therapy?
At its core, Graston therapy is the use of a specialized tool to mobilize and rehabilitate soft tissue. The Graston technique we know today was developed by David Graston, a water skiier who suffered a knee injury. After struggling with poor recover from his injury, David decided to look into new ways of healing his tissues. He developed a manual massage style that incorporated the use of special tools to improve the healing process. This method involved “cross-friction” massage, a technique known for improving soft tissue healing and orthopedic conditions.
Today, Graston is a popular adjunctive therapy to sports rehabilitation and athletic medicine. It is prized by professional NFL, NBA, and MLB sports teams and a favorite natural therapy of orthopedic therapists across the country.
How Does Graston Therapy Work?
During a Graston treatment, a variety of small, smooth, instruments glides over areas of stagnation or restriction. The tools offer both diagnostic information about the area, as well as a therapeutic effect. The treatment is often done near the site of injury but can also be used in nearby areas to open and release the entire muscle chain or region.
Incorporating Graston therapy into your healing regimen can expedite the healing process for injuries and improve the function and mobility of your muscles. Graston accomplishes this in a few ways. As the tool glides along muscle fibers, it breaks up fascial adhesions, old scar tissue, and other areas of stagnation or fibrosis. This allow for increased mobility and free movement of the muscles, tendons, and joints. Increased blood flow in the area also restores the underlying tissues to health. This improves healing and prevents future injury or restrictions.
Gua Sha: Graston’s Early Chinese Roots
The Graston tool is a relatively new instrument in the world of sports medicine, developed only in 1994, but its roots run deep. Graston therapy is a modernize conceptualization of the ancient Chinese medicine practice of gua sha. Gua sha has been practiced as part of the Chinese medical framework for thousands of years.
When performing gua sha therapy, a small rounded spoon or jade tool is used to “scrape” along muscles, joints, acupuncture channels, or other areas to help stimulate healing and rejuvenation. Like Graston, this technique reduces fascial restrictions, circulates fresh blood, removes blockages, and facilitates the healing process. After a gua sha treatment, small red petechia, or splotches, are often seen in the treated area. This is called “sha” or “sand” and marks the old, stagnant blood that was released by the treatment. Sha is not painful and fades after a few days.
Gua sha is often used for aches, pains, injury rehabilitation, asthma, digestion enhancement, and even facial rejuvenation. As Graston therapy’s early predecessor, gua sha remains a useful and beneficial soft tissue treatment along with the modern Graston technique.
Benefits of Graston Therapy
Faster Recovery Time
Graston’s unique diagnosis and treatment of restricted areas not only helps to reduce friction and adhesions, but courses blood throughout the region. Increased blood flow has a great impact on injured tissue, bringing fresh oxygen, nutrients, and nourishment to the inhibited area. This not only affects the desired area, but the body as a whole.
Increased Mobility and Range of Motion
The key goal of Graston therapy is to return the muscles to their original, healthy structure and function. Whether from injury or overuse, muscles, tendons, and joints can become locked or distorted. Graston helps to remove these blockages and enhance total mobility and function.
Is Graston Therapy for Everyone?
Graston therapy has a wide range of uses and is an appropriate method for most people. Athletes and active individuals benefit greatly from this technique, as do those who have suffered from slow-to-heal injuries, chronic pain, post-surgery restriction, or reduced movement. Here are a few of the most commonly treated issues:
- Neck Pain (Cervical Sprain/Strain)
- Ankle Pain (Achilles Tendinosis/itis)
- Wrist Pain (Carpal Tunnel Syndrome)
- FibromyalgiaHamstring Injuries
- Hip Pain, Sciatica
- IT Band (Iliotibial Band)
- Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylosis/itis)
- Golfer’s Elbow (Medial
- Back Pain (Lumbar Sprain/Strain)
- Knee Pain (Patellofemoral Disorders)
- Heel Pain (Plantar Fasciitis)
- Shoulder Pain (Rotator Cuff Tendinosis/itis)
- Scar Tissue
- Trigger Finger
- Women’s Health (Post-Mastectomy and Caesarean Scarring)
- Breast Augmentation scarring, pain, or prevention
Muscle separation is key for bodybuilders, as they work to emphasize their 3-Dimensional look on stage. Graston helps to break up adhesions in the muscle bodies to allow fuller development, while also increasing blood supply to the muscle tissue. This enhances the look of the muscles while also providing stronger pump sensations in the gym.
The Muscle Doc Method Approach to Graston Therapy
Graston therapy has been used as part of the Muscle Doc Method rehabilitation program for years. An influx of professional body builders, CrossFit competitors, and MMA fighters inspired Christopher to take on this unique treatment technique to address the soft tissue injuries of these patients.
In true Muscle Doc Method style, Christopher has combined his experience and understanding of the technique and the functionality of the human body to perfect the Graston technique. He combines the traditional uses of ancient gua sha, the modern Graston adaptation, and his own functional plane movement exercises to fully rehabilitate the troubled area. Acupuncture and other treatment methods may be incorporated for full healing potential. Christopher’s range of holistic treatments and licensed therapeutic approaches set him apart from traditional sports therapists.