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What Is Graston Technique?

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  • Written By: Dan Harkins
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 11 November 2016
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Soft tissue damage, also known as scar tissue, is a common muscular ailment for athletes and others with active lifestyles, which is often accompanied by pain and a loss of flexibility. Many turn to prescription, massage, physical or chiropractic therapy to relieve this damage, while a growing body of believers appears to be supporting a new method of detecting and eliminating skeletal pain: the Graston Technique®. Developed in Indiana at Ball State University's Memorial Hospital, practitioners of this method roll a half-dozen types of vibrating steel tools across patients' bodies to find exactly where scar tissue may be lurking and dissolve the adhesions with applied heat, vibration and even frequency changes.

According to the official Graston Technique® Web site, run by parent company TherapyCare Resources, Inc., the concept was born when an unnamed athlete, who was also a machinist, could not find relief for a knee injury through traditional surgery and therapies. The six instruments and patented technique then was developed more specifically by researchers at Ball State. In 2011, the company reports that 11,000 certified therapists utilize the procedure globally as well as 1,000 oupatient clinics.

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The Graston Technique® is not a mystical chiropractic procedure. TherapyCare Resources explicitly publicizes the technique's methods. The procedure starts with a deep stretching regimen, followed by gel being applied over problem areas. Depending on the complaint and specific treatment path, any one of the six tools is then slid deeply over different muscle groups to detect areas with scar tissue, also known as fibrotic tissue. Once detected through more intense resulting vibrations, other techniques are used to allegedly help the tools dissolve the tissue causing pain or range of motion problems.

Not just anyone can buy these instruments. To do so, customers have to attend training and become certified to perform the procedure in a range of settings, from chiropractic clinics and physical therapy facilities to locker rooms and doctors' offices. Though many medical experts are skeptical and awaiting further clinical trials, others appear to be fully on board. TherapyCare Resources reports that the method is taught at nearly 50 universities and is being studied in 2011 by four separate research institutions, despite initial confirmation upon development at Ball State.

This alternative therapy is used to diagnose and treat a range of painful conditions. From breaks, sprains and strains to tennis elbow, carpal tunnel and more serious degenerative conditions, the Graston Technique® claims an effectiveness rate of between 60 percent to 92 percent. Nevertheless, this so-called cross-tissue therapy is still considered by many to be in its experimental phase.

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