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How the Graston Technique Can Heal Stubborn Scar Tissue

Those stainless steel tools may look intimidating, but they could be your new go-to for muscle healing.

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Graston Technique
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For guys with a boatload of scar tissue and tight fascia—a result of continuously breaking down muscle tissue by training, which can lead to joint pain, tendinitis, and muscle knots—a recovery method that puts a twist on deep tissue massage might help. The Graston Technique (GT) was created in the 1990s by David Graston, who at the time was an amateur athlete suffering from a knee injury. GT purports to give you a faster and better outcome compared with more traditional recovery methods, like a massage.

“The protocol uses stainless steel instruments to amplify abnormalities­ in the texture of the tissue,” says Mike Ploski, P.T., A.T.C., O.C.S., director of strategic planning at Graston Technique. Backed by some research, the therapy may help better treat conditions like tendinitis, carpal tunnel, back pain, tight IT bands, and plantar fasciitis by giving the practitioner the ability to identify subtle restrictions, undetectable to the bare hand, and to mobilize or manipulate the tissue more precisely. Ploski adds, “Patients can also feel the same abnormal tissue through the instrument as the clinician, and can feel the quality of the tissue improve.”

What’s more, the force that GT places on your muscles elicits a response from your cells that causes them to remodel, repair, and strengthen muscle tissues. This is called “mechanotherapy” and can also improve an athlete’s range of motion and decrease delayed­onset muscle soreness (DOMS). It’s a big reason why GT has become popular among professional sports teams such as the New York Yankees, Cleveland Cavaliers, and New England Patriots.

However, GT is not universally loved. Skeptics point out that few human studies have been performed, and most insurance companies list the therapy under their “Complementary and Alternative Medicine” category of treatments—a category reserved for therapies with insufficient evidence in peer-­reviewed clinical trials that demonstrate their effectiveness.

But if you have lingering soft tissue pain, give it a go for $60 to $90 a session. It’s noninvasive, so trying GT won’t hurt anything except your wallet.

THE 411: GRASTON TECHNIQUE FACTS

  • More than 31,000 clinicians worldwide
  • Part of the curriculum at more than 50 colleges and universities
  • Used by more than 500 professional and amateur sports organizations
  • Applied at more than 3,600 outpatient facilities
  • Used by 16 NBA teams, 18 NFL teams, 16 MLB teams

For more information on the Graston Technique, visit grastontechnique.com.

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