A Guide to Conditions Treated by the Graston Technique

April 24, 2024


The Graston Technique is a form of manual therapy that utilizes specialized instruments to treat soft tissue injuries and conditions. David Graston developed it in the 1990s and has gained popularity among healthcare professionals, including physical therapists, chiropractors, and athletic trainers.

The technique involves using stainless steel instruments to perform a form of soft tissue mobilization. These instruments are specifically designed to detect and treat areas of scar tissue or fascial restrictions in the body. By applying controlled pressure and creating a shearing force, the practitioner can effectively break down adhesions and stimulate the healing process.

How does the Graston Technique work?

The Graston Technique works by addressing soft tissue dysfunction and promoting the regeneration of healthy tissue. When an injury occurs, whether it is acute or chronic, the body’s natural response is to protect the affected area by laying down scar tissue. While scar tissue is necessary for initial healing, it can become problematic if it builds up and restricts movement or causes pain.

During a Graston Technique session, the practitioner will use the instruments to glide over the skin and detect areas of scar tissue or fascial restrictions. Once identified, the practitioner will apply the instruments with specific strokes, targeting the affected areas. This process helps to break up the scar tissue, improve blood flow, and stimulate the production of collagen, which is essential for tissue repair.

Conditions treated by the Graston Technique

The Graston Technique can be used to treat a wide range of conditions affecting the musculoskeletal system. Some of the common conditions that can benefit from this form of therapy include:

1. Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is a condition characterized by inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot. This condition often causes heel pain and can make walking or standing for long periods challenging. The Graston Technique can help break down scar tissue in the plantar fascia, alleviate pain, and promote healing.

2. Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is a condition that causes pain and inflammation on the outer part of the elbow. It is commonly seen in individuals who participate in repetitive activities that involve gripping or lifting. The Graston Technique can effectively target the affected tendons and help reduce pain and improve function.

3. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that occurs when the median nerve, which runs through the wrist, becomes compressed. This can lead to numbness, tingling, and weakness in the hand and fingers. The Graston Technique can be utilized to release tightness in the muscles and fascia surrounding the carpal tunnel, alleviating pressure on the median nerve and reducing symptoms.

4. IT Band Syndrome

IT (iliotibial) band syndrome is a common overuse injury that affects runners and cyclists. It causes pain on the outside of the knee and can limit performance. The Graston Technique can be used to address tightness and adhesions in the IT band, promoting flexibility and reducing pain.

5. Scar Tissue

The Graston Technique is highly effective in treating scar tissue, whether it is from surgeries, injuries, or repetitive strain. By breaking down adhesions and promoting circulation, this therapy can help improve the appearance and function of scar tissue.

Benefits of the Graston Technique

The Graston Technique offers several benefits for individuals seeking relief from soft tissue injuries and conditions. Some of the key advantages of this therapy include:

  1. Improved Range of Motion: By breaking down scar tissue and fascial restrictions, the Graston Technique helps restore normal range of motion and flexibility.
  2. Pain Reduction: The therapy can effectively alleviate pain associated with soft tissue injuries and conditions, allowing individuals to resume their daily activities with less discomfort.
  3. Enhanced Healing: The Graston Technique stimulates the production of collagen, which is essential for tissue repair and regeneration. This can accelerate the healing process and promote long-term recovery.
  4. Non-Invasive: Unlike some other treatment options, the Graston Technique is non-invasive and does not involve the use of medications or surgery. It is a safe and natural approach to healing.
  5. Complementary Treatment: The Graston Technique can be used in conjunction with other therapies, such as exercise, stretching, and rehabilitation programs, to enhance overall outcomes and speed up recovery.

Research and evidence supporting the effectiveness of the Graston Technique

Numerous studies have investigated the effectiveness of the Graston Technique in treating various conditions. The results have been promising, demonstrating positive outcomes for patients who have undergone this therapy. For example, a study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found that the Graston Technique was effective in improving pain and function in individuals with chronic plantar fasciitis.

Another study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy examined the use of the Graston Technique in treating patients with carpal tunnel syndrome. The results showed significant improvements in pain, grip strength, and functional abilities compared to a control group.

These studies, along with many others, provide evidence supporting the efficacy of the Graston Technique in treating soft tissue injuries and conditions. However, it is important to note that individual results may vary, and it is always advisable to consult with a qualified healthcare professional to determine the best treatment approach for your specific condition.

What to expect during a Graston Technique session

If you are considering undergoing the Graston Technique, it is essential to know what to expect during a session. Typically, a session will begin with an assessment of your condition and a thorough evaluation of the affected area. The practitioner will then use the specialized instruments to perform the therapy, targeting the specific areas of concern.

During the session, you may experience some mild discomfort or a sensation similar to deep tissue massage. The intensity of the treatment can be adjusted based on your comfort level and the severity of your condition. The duration of each session will depend on various factors, including the size and location of the affected area.

After the session, it is common to experience some soreness or bruising in the treated area. This is a normal response and should subside within a few days. It is advisable to follow any post-treatment instructions provided by your practitioner, such as applying ice or performing specific exercises.

Frequently asked questions about the Graston Technique

  1. Is the Graston Technique painful? While the therapy may cause some discomfort or mild pain during the session, it is generally well-tolerated. The intensity of the treatment can be adjusted to ensure your comfort.
  2. How many sessions will I need? The number of sessions required will depend on the nature and severity of your condition. Your practitioner will develop a treatment plan based on your individual needs and goals.
  3. Is the Graston Technique covered by insurance? The coverage of the Graston Technique by insurance can vary. It is advisable to check with your insurance provider to determine if the therapy is included in your plan.
  4. Can anyone undergo the Graston Technique? The Graston Technique is generally safe for most individuals. However, there may be certain contraindications or precautions depending on your specific condition. It is best to consult with a qualified healthcare professional to determine if the therapy is suitable for you.


The Graston Technique is a valuable therapeutic approach for individuals seeking relief from soft tissue injuries and conditions. By targeting scar tissue and fascial restrictions, this technique can promote healing, reduce pain, and improve overall function. The evidence supporting its effectiveness, along with the numerous conditions it can treat, make it a popular choice among healthcare professionals. If you are considering the Graston Technique as a treatment option, consult with a qualified practitioner to determine if it is the right choice for your specific needs.

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