THE GRASTON TECHNIQUE: Utilizing High-Precision Instruments to Breakdown Scar Tissue

Posted on Posted in All Posts, Let's Get Technical

At Thrive Integrated Physical Therapy we have many treatment options to help you achieve your goals of a healthy, pain-free life. One of the treatments that has helped both people coming to physical therapy for the first time and also patients coming to us after a previous failed PT attempt elsewhere, is the use of The Graston Technique.


What is The Graston Technique?

The Graston Technique, or Graston for short, is a form of manual therapy. In particular, Graston falls under the category of Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM) where stainless steel instruments are used to massage, mobilize, and manipulate tissue. IASTM is any time the Therapist/ provider is utilizing an object other than just their hands to mobilize the tissue (hence the “instrument assisted” part).

Why use the Stainless Steel instruments?

One of the reasons I find the use of Graston instruments so effective, is that the instruments can “amplify” the information that I would normally feel with my hands. When the instrument goes over a soft tissue restriction there is a vibration that occurs. You could think of it as a metal detector being swept along beach. The metal detector starts to beep when an object of interest is found below the surface. This is similar to the vibration I feel when the Graston instrument goes over a restriction in the tissue. This sensation helps me tune-in my treatment to a specific location. This leads to more effective sessions at PT:honing in on the area that will make the most difference in your rehabilitation, which will lead to faster recoveries and decreased pain.

Another benefit of the use of Graston Instruments is the product design. Graston utilizes 6 differently shaped instruments to help conform to any part of the body. There are large instruments that require two hands to hold for larger areas like the back, shoulder, and legs. Then, there are also instruments that are small to help access the spaces around the ankle, wrist and elbow. They also have beveled edges to more effectively mobilize scar tissue and fascial adhesions. The use of the instruments also allow for quicker breakdown of the scar tissue. Scar tissue that may take 10 minutes to loosen up with hands might be able to be broken down in ½ the time with the use of a Graston instrument.

How might a typical Graston Session go?

In Physical Therapy we use tools like Graston as a part of a larger treatment approach to help achieve your goals. For example, you may come to the treatment session and do a warm-up (biking, elliptical, hot pack, etc). Then, the Graston instruments would be used to work on any scar tissue, inflamed tendon, strained muscle, sprained ligaments, or any adhesions found during the assessment. This could then be followed by passive stretching to utilize the new found range of motion. Then, the PT would take you through retraining movement patterns to utilize the area properly (neuromuscular reeducation). This would be followed up with strengthening exercises to help stabilize and support the area. After which, a cool down could be performed.

If I am interested in Graston, what are the next steps?

If you are curious is this type of rehabilitation would be good for you, schedule an appointment and speak with your physical therapist.

For appointments please call (212) 254-7750 or email

Photograph by Alexander Mazen

Jari Haile, DPT, OCS, ATC, PES, is able to pinpoint faulty mechanics and movement patterns that contribute to pain. She incorporates skilled manual therapy to elongate shortened tissues, stretch tightened muscles, align the spine and decrease compression on the body’s joints. She then taps into the body’s neural pathways to “retrain the brain” how to move properly and finally break the pain-producing cycle.