The Graston Technique is a form of "cross fiber" massage with a metal instrument.

The Graston Technique® incorporates an evidence-based form of instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization that enables clinicians to effectively detect and treat scar tissue and restrictions that affect normal function.

The Technique:

  • Separates and breaks down collagen cross-links, and splays and stretches connective tissue and muscle fibers
  • Increases skin temperature
  • Facilitates reflex changes in the chronic muscle holding pattern
  • Alters spinal reflex activity (facilitated segment)
  • Increases the rate and amount of blood flow to and from the area
  • Increases cellular activity in the region, including fibroblasts and mast cells
  • Increases histamine response secondary to mast cell activity

Does the Graston Technique effectively treat limited mobility and pain due to scar tissue, as claimed?

  • Is this a question, or do you already know the answer?
    – Oddthinking
    Feb 3, 2016 at 1:32
  • Well I would like to see if anyone has had personal experience and what they think. I have never tried it. Majority og the scientific research i find points to need more info. Feb 3, 2016 at 1:37
  • This is the wrong site for discussion or calls for anecdotes. We are only interested in what the empirical evidence shows.
    – Oddthinking
    Feb 3, 2016 at 2:03
  • A comprehensive review of literature for Graston Technique is present here-sciencebasedmedicine.org/… and from the outlook, the technique is experimental since majority of the testing is done on mice! Feb 3, 2016 at 12:13

1 Answer 1


The Graston Technique is evidence based.

The 2009 Science-Based Medicine article that @pericles316 cites is anything but comprehensive. It is outdated.

A comprehensive review of the evidence can be found on the Graston Technique web site

The majority of the testing was done on humans, NOT mice.

Several high quality histologic studies were done on rats:

But, again, the majority of research has been performed on humans.

Empirically, GT has been demonstrated to mobilize stem cells into circulation (in humans) to help promote healing.

  • Loghmani MT, Fuller EM, Handt R, Neff B, Seasly L, Swartz C, Whitted M, March KL (2016). Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization in healthy young adult males mobilizes tissue-resident mesenchymal stem cells into circulation. Journal of orthopaedic & sports physical therapy, 46(1), A107

Human trials have also demonstrated decreased swelling, improved ROM / flexibility, and improved function.

Acute effects of instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization for improving posterior shoulder range of motion in collegiate baseball players.

  • International journal of sports physical therapy, 9(1), 1-7; Toepper BW, Docherty CL, Donahue M, Kingma J, Schrader J (2013). The effects of the Graston Technique on knee extension angle. Journal of athletic training, 48(3), S128

  • Schaefer JL, Sandrey MA (2012). Effects of a 4-week dynamic-balance-training program supplemented with Graston instrument assisted soft-tissue mobilization for chronic ankle instability. Journal of sport rehabilitation, 21(4), 313-326

  • Heyer K, Docherty C, Donahue M, Schrader JW (2012). Effect of implement assisted soft tissue mobilization techniques on iliotibial band tightness. Journal of athletic training, 47(3), S128

  • 2
    I spot-checked the abstract of a random study here: Loghmani MT, Warden SJ (2009). It was NOT a "histologic" study. It compared "instrument-assisted cross-fiber massage" with NO treatment. As such, it could not distinguish between this treatment and regular massage. There was nothing in the abstract about blinding.
    – Oddthinking
    Feb 3, 2016 at 23:45
  • I tried to spot-check another random study here: Loghmani MT, Fuller EM, Handt R, Neff B, Seasly L, Swartz C, Whitted M, March KL (2016). I could not find any text that wasn't behind a paywall, but it appears to be an (unpeer-reviewed) poster presentation rather than a peer-reviewed article.
    – Oddthinking
    Feb 3, 2016 at 23:52
  • I did a spot-check on another random study. This was done by undergraduates, which is to be applauded, but not necessarily trusted. Small sample, unblinded. (I am dubious about the number of comparisons they performed while keeping the significance threshold at 0.05, but I need a statistician to tell me whether that is legit.) Participants were uninjured athletes. Suggested that GT alone wasn't statistically significant at improving mobility, but that GT+dynamic stretching was better than stretching alone.
    – Oddthinking
    Feb 4, 2016 at 0:06
  • A couple more studies here and here
    – Sklivvz
    Feb 4, 2016 at 0:17
  • 1
    It seems to me that the studies presented are all of relatively poor quality, this should be mentioned in the answer. Also -- please always include a link, preferably to a free version of the paper; as you've noticed we like to check the sources.
    – Sklivvz
    Feb 4, 2016 at 0:18

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