Physical therapy, massage therapy and chiropractic share many of the same techniques.  Among them is the Graston Technique. Could it provide the relief you need? The answer is a definite, "maybe."

The Graston Technique is a therapeutic method of diagnosing and disrupting scar tissue and connective tissuel restrictions. It's becoming increasingly popular as a way of treating musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders. Therapists who are trained in the Graston Technique (GT) use a variety of stainless steel instruments to detect and treat adhesions and areas of reduced soft tissue mobility, which might be causing pain. By applying pressure and massaging in specific ways, GT is thought to stretch and disrupt restricting scar tissue and encourage it to heal properly.

The Graston Technique works similarly to hands-on techniques often used by physical and massage therapists and chiropractics. GT also works similarly to myofascial release therapy, a type of soft tissue therapy designed to reduce restrictions, increase mobility and ultimately reduce pain. The instruments used in GT, however, are reportedly able to provide more sensitive diagnosis of restricted areas and different levels of pressure and intensity while saving therapists hands.

The Graston Technique website lists thousands of practitioners around the world and dozens of published researched studies and case studies to stand as testimonial to it's effectiveness, but what do those studies say?   

  • One study published in the Journal of Sport Rehabilitation entitled the Effects of a 4-Week Dynamic-Balance-Training Program Supplemented With Graston Instrument-Assisted Soft-Tissue Mobilization for Chronic Ankle Instability concluded that self-reported function, pain, range of motion, and dynamic postural control (SEBT) improved pretest to posttest in all subjects regardless of whether they received the Gaston Technique. Researchers determined that the Gaston Technique may have been beneficial, but more research was needed.
  • In an article about tennis elbow published by the American Chiropractic Association, the authors reference research conducted by The Institute for Research in Extramural Medicine, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands on the Effectiveness of physiotherapy for lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow) and conclude that preliminary studies utilizing the Graston Technique for this condition have shown promising results when compared with a traditional physiotherapy protocol.
  • In another study, patients with plantar fasciitis, which causes pain in the bottom of the foot, were treated with a variety of therapeutic options. The group of patients treated with Graston Technique combined with a home stretching program experienced what the researchers called, "both a statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvement in all dependent measures."

Does the Graston Technique work? 

The research is too early to say for sure. In many cases, it seems to be helpful when combined with other techniques. Considering that many chiropractic, and alternative medical practices are still under-studied, it's hard to say for certain whether they work or not. As part of a treatment plan that includes physical therapy, massage therapy or chiropractic care, utilization of the Graston Technique may provide the relief you need.  


American Chiropractic Association

Tennis Elbow? Let's Do the Twist!

Learn about new groundbreaking rehabilitation exercise for lateral epicondylosis.

By Jay Greenstein, DC, CCSP, CGFI-L1, CKTP

Ann Med. 2003;35(1):51-62.

Effectiveness of physiotherapy for lateral epicondylitis: a systematic review.

Smidt N, Assendeft WJ, Arola H, Malmivaara A, Greens S, Buchbinder R, van der Windt DA, Bouter LM.

Institute for Research in Extramural Medicine, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics Looney et al 139

Volume 34, Number 2


Brian Looney, DPT, DC, Terry Srokose, DC, César Fernández-de-las-Peñas, PT, PhD,

Joshua A. Cleland, PT, PhD

The Graston Technique

Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR reviewed this article.