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Gua sha, a Chinese medicine technique that involves scraping muscle tissue to stimulate blood flow has been used for centuries to promote healing. A variation of this technique was introduced in the United States in the early ’90s by David Graston. Graston, an athlete with a knee injury, developed the tool and massage technique, now referred to as the “Graston technique” to treat himself.
This technique has since been used to help thousands of athletes and weekend warriors, suffering from strained and pulled muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Patients with chronic pain and inflammation have also benefited.
Muscles have different fibers and as fibers become tight they build up toxins. With the Graston technique, a stainless-steel instrument and special massage technique are used to identify areas of adhesion that can be improved. The instrument and massage are used in combination to stretch and relax the muscle tissues. This helps increase blood flow and restore movement patterns in injured tissues.
In the clinic, I begin treatment by having patients warm up their soft tissue by using a stationary bike, elliptical machine or other dynamic movements. Next, I’ll push the tool gently, using big, broad strokes across the injured area. The tool helps me sense muscle vibrations and identify specific areas to work.
I’ve seen patients who have benefited greatly from the technique but have also seen those who did not.
Here are three reasons the treatment can fail:
The Graston technique can be a useful muscle injury repair tool when incorporated into a full treatment plan.
Chris Gabriel, PT, OCS (Board Certified Orthopedic Specialist), CSCS (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist), practices with the OrthoCarolina Wellness Center. Chris and his team treat a range of patients for orthopedic and sports medicine needs. He enjoys working with various local high school, college, and professional sports teams.