Graston Technique: Instruments of change

Written by Milan Lassiter, DC, 1303 W. Main St, Richmond, VA and reached at (804) 254-5765.


The Graston Technique® uses six hand-held stainless steel instruments.  It is an instrument assisted soft-tissue mobilization technique. Basically, that means we’re trying to get soft-tissues (muscles, fascia, tendons, connective tissue, etc.) to be more mobile…moving better and more freely. Graston Technique is designed to mobilize, reduce and reorganize adhesive scar tissue or fibrotic tissue restrictions in your body.  Often this adhesive scar tissue will be felt as a “knot” or tight band in a muscle.  You may notice loss of movement, pain, or tightness and tension as well.

 See the link at the bottom of this page where an orthopedic surgeon talks about  the value of Graston Technique.

A specially designed lubricant is applied to the skin prior to using the Graston Technique to minimize irritation to the skin. The instrument is then glided over the area in multiple directions to the adhesive scar tissue. The skin is usually reddened after the treatment and may be slightly sensitive to the touch for a day or two.  It should be clarified that the idea is not to dig in hard with the Graston tools.  The instruments have a precise hand-beveled  angle and certified providers are taught a specific angle with which to hold the instruments. Those are the things that break up the adhesions and remodel the scar tissue, not digging into the tissue as hard as you can with the tool.

The idea of Graston is to remodel tangled, fibrous scar tissue. By remodel, I mean that it reorganizes the tissue fibers from being tangled (lined up in random directions) to being changed into lining up in a more parallel, straight fashion.  Tangled tissue  functions as if grabbing two ends of a rope and pulling apart equally with both hands…there’s no movement.  Now think of grabbing two ends of a rubber  band and pulling apart…you get stretchability and elasticity.  That’s what we’re working to do with Graston…taking tangled, “knotted,” and tight tissue and changing it to being moveable, elastic, and stretchable tissue.

The metal tools  that we use in our office function similarly to a stethoscope, allowing us to have a glimpse at what’s going on inside your body.  As the metal tools are moved, a “vibratory” sensation allows us to feel, find and zero in on the damaged areas. There is a clear change in the structure of damaged tissue, often felt as stringy, lumpy, rope-like, or hardened bands of tissue.

With a chiropractic training, we learn to adjust the spine and joints in the body.  Keeping body joints freely moving and well aligned, especially in the spine, is important and very valuable for our overall health and vitality.  However, chiropractic colleges are teaching nothing about soft tissue management (muscles, fascia, tendons, etc.) and most chiropractors do little to nothing for the soft tissues.  In the majority of patients that come to our office, I find limitations and injuries (old or new) to the soft tissues. What I’ve found over my approximately 15 years of practice is that techniques such as Graston or ART very specifically address the soft tissue component of an injury or repetitive stress condition.

Things have changed since the inception of chiropractic in 1895 and, for me, it includes soft tissue management in conjunction with chiropractic adjustments, as well as rehabilitative exercises.

Click on this TV interview  to see an orthopedic surgeon talking about the value of Graston Technique.


Dr. Lassiter

Author Dr. Lassiter

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