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Graston Technique

Myofascial Therapy In Our Office…A Massage or Something Different?

By | Active Release Technique (ART), Chiropractic, Graston Technique
Personally written by Dr. Milan Lassiter, Chiropractor, 1303 W. Main St., Richmond, VA, Tel #: (804) 254-5765

 

fascia_1244463_whiteI am not a massage therapist, although I greatly respect and appreciate the work that massage therapists do. I am a chiropractor in Richmond, VA, who has been in practice for about 15 years. In chiropractic college, we learned a lot about the spine and adjusting the spine in order to correct spinal mis-aligment, improve spinal movement dysfunction, and increase nervous system function.

 

As soon as I was licensed and started working on patients, I couldn’t help but notice an inordinate amount of soft tissue problems. I was always doing pressure point therapy and cross friction massage on the soft tissue disorders that I’d notice. In 2008, I started to study Active Release Technique (ART), a patented myofascial technique that is widely used with athletes (it’s really appropriate for anyone with tight, tense, or dysfunctional soft-tissue movement). Most of the professionals who do Active Release Technique are chiropractors or physical therapists, and I noticed that many of them also did another myofascial technique called Graston Technique. I preceded to study that technique too, and, between the two myofascial techniques, it totally changed the way that I practice. By the way, the word myofascial stands for muslces (myo) and fascia (a connective tissue that is replete throughout the body and is very important in producing movement).

 

Most of the dysfunctional movement problems in the body fall under one of 2 categories: (1) Joint mobility dysfunction or (2) Tissue extensibility dysfunction. The chiropractic adjustments that we perform in our office corrects joint mobility problems. The myofascial work that we do, and that massage therapists perform, corrects the tissue extensibility problems. Tissue extensibility dysfunction basically means soft tissues (muscle, fascia, ligaments, tendons, etc.) that can’t or aren’t able to move properly. They’re stuck, restricted, contracted, and just plain lacking the proper ability to move the way that they should.

 

I love the way that massage therapists work the soft tissue system from head to toe, but I’ll leave that to them…they’re the professionals that you should go to for that because they do that better than anyone. The soft tissue work that I do, ART and Graston Technique, is much more regional. I identify specific soft tissues that are dysfunctional and I work to correct that.  Examples would be an ITB syndrome, patello-femoral syndrome, achilles tendonosis (tendonitis), or rotator cuff syndrome that is hindering someone from running or from moving their shoulder properly.

 

In our Richmond office, I address joint mobility dysfunction by chiropractic adjustments, spinal decompression therapy, and Laser therapy. I address tissue extensibility dysfunction by various myofascial techniques, including ART, Graston Technique, Dry needling, and Laser therapy. When patients come to our office, they get one or both…they get adjusted and/or they get myofascial therapy (ART and/or Graston), depending on what’s indicated. Most people get both…they get adjusted and then they get some soft tissue myofascial therapy. To me, the two systems work symbiotically and one doesn’t work without the other, so it’s natural to make sure both the spine/joints are working properly while at the same time making sure the soft tissue system is doing the same.

 

Graston Technique: Instruments of change

By | Graston Technique
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.