What is the Graston Technique/Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM)?

Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization or IASTM is the use of tools or instruments which enables clinicians to efficiently locate and treat soft tissue adhesions and tightness. The technique was derived from Traditional Chinese Medicine called Gua Sha. Gua Sha was reportedly applied along meridians to move the “bad chi” out through the skin.

Historically, many different materials have been used such as a butter knives, sea shells and rocks to apply the soft tissue treatment. Currently instruments may be made out of wood, ceramics, plastics, stone and stainless steel. The use of IASTM is rapidly growing with multiple clinical groups devising their own version of IASTM, with varying types of strokes being taught and additional instruments have been developed to produce the desired soft tissue effect.

Heather has been trained in the Graston ®Technique which is one popular example of IASTM. Graston has it’s own set of tools and shapes of tools that they feel allow the best application of this soft tissue treatment.

What is the Graston Technique?

You may have heard friends raving about the results they’ve gotten by visiting a therapist to receive the Graston Technique for nagging pain and stiffness. And you might even know that practitioners need to undergo special training to become licensed in the Graston Technique, as well as the right to use its patented set of handheld instruments. But until you actually find yourself battling one of the many painful disorders involving connective tissue and skeletal muscles, you probably haven’t been that curious about therapy options. Yet the Graston Technique may just help you when other methods can’t.

Graston Technique practitioners use a set of up to six patented hand tools in order to mobilize soft tissue in various parts of the body. By using these implements, specially licensed physical therapists break up the fascial restrictions and scar tissue that creates pain and stiffness.

The application of the Graston tools on problematic tissue is designed to be part of the overall therapy session, which starts with a warm up prior to the use of the tools. Flexibility, strength building, and the all-important ice pack, generally finishes up the Graston Technique session.

What tools are used in the Graston Technique?

A half-dozen handheld, stainless steel tools are part of the Graston Technique, all with different angles and edges that target different areas of the body. The Graston tools first help identify areas needing treatment, by allowing the physical therapist to both feel a “graininess” through the tool which indicates tissue adhesions. Next, the tools are used to actually treat the problematic areas. Using a variety of these small, hand-held steel tools, the physical therapist then facilitates scar re-organization of the tissues by systematically rubbing it back and forth along the affected area.

Conditions Treated:

Many of the very health issues for which people seek therapy stem — at least in part — from fascial restrictions and a buildup of scar tissues. For that reason, Heather is trained in Graston and performs this technique on conditions in the upper extremity; for example:
Tennis elbow
Wrist sprains
Edema control
Thumb finger pain
Rotator cuff tendinitis
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Fibromyalgia
Post-joint replacement scarring
Post-mastectomy scarring
Post-Caesarean scarring

Indications:

Limited motion of a region
Pain with motion
Motor control or imbalance issues
Motor weakness
Conditions for which IASTM is usually used:
Medial Epicondylitis, Lateral Epicondylitis
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Neck Pain
Rotator Cuff Tendinitis
DeQuervain’s Syndrome
Post-Surgical and Traumatic Scars
Myofascial Pain and Restrictions
Musculoskeletal Imbalances
Chronic Joint Swelling Associated with Sprains/Strains
Ligament Sprains
Muscle Strains
Non-Acute Bursitis
RSD (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy)
Trigger Finger
Scars (Surgical, Traumatic)

Contradictions:

Compromised tissue integrity (open wound, infection, tumor)
Active implants (pacemaker, internal defibrillator, picc/pump lines)
DVT
Cervical carotid sinus