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Graston Technique: Physical Therapy Method Speeds Up Injury Healing

By: Alexandra McVicker DPT, OCS

Whether they are 6 or 16, one of the first things young athletes want to know after getting injured is when they can get back in the game.

Sports injuries often happen quickly during training, practice, and games. They can also develop slowly over time.

At CHKD, our physical therapy program offers a soft-tissue mobilization technique that helps reduce recovery time for young athletes. The Graston technique is an instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization, which allows physical therapists to realign tissue fibers and promote healing.

Therapists use stainless steel instruments as an extension of their hands to mobilize specific soft tissues affected by injuries. The Graston instruments make it easier for physical therapists to perform common manual techniques such as soft/deep tissue mobilization, cross friction massage, and trigger point release.

Therapists use six different Graston tools, depending on which part of the body needs to be treated. The tools are often compared to a stethoscope. While a stethoscope amplifies sound, the Graston instruments make it easier for a therapist to feel and detect soft tissue restrictions.

In addition to encouraging faster recovery, the Graston technique also:

  • Restores function and control that an athlete might lose from a chronic condition.
  • Repairs and rebuilds soft tissue after injury.
  • Isolates and releases soft tissue restrictions that interfere with movement.

Therapists can treat several different types of sports injuries using Graston instruments.

Pulled muscles

As a parent, it’s important to make sure your child’s sports injury heals properly before they return to full activity. Pulling a muscle may not seem like a serious injury, but if it’s not treated appropriately, it can lead to chronic issues. The Graston technique is extremely helpful with this type of injury because the variety of instruments make it easier to tackle different types of adhesions that can affect large and small surface areas of the body.

Plantar fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis can be a stubborn overuse injury that affects runners. This typically arises from repeatedly over-stressing the thick layer of connective tissue or fascia that runs from the heel into the toes. As a result, micro tears lead to scar tissue and a thickening of the plantar fascia. Using Graston instruments to treat plantar fasciitis allows therapists to mobilize fascia and promote tissue healing.

Tennis elbow/Little League elbow

These two types of sports injuries develop when kids overuse muscles in the forearm, leading to inflammation and degeneration. With the Graston technique, physical therapists at CHKD can easily improve blood flow and decrease scar tissue. Consequently, patients experience less pain while increasing their mobility.

The Graston technique is just one of the cutting edge ways that physical therapists in CHKD’s sports medicine program can help young athletes recover from injuries, stay healthy, and keep playing the sports they love. For more information, visit

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About CHKD Sports Medicine

About CHKD Sports Medicine  CHKD's sports medicine program offers the most comprehensive care for your young athlete. From diagnosis and treatment to customized rehabilitation plans, we specialize in physical therapy and injury prevention programs for active children and teens. Our team is composed of pediatric orthopedic surgeons, sports medicine specialists, physician assistants, certified athletic trainers and pediatric sports medicine physical therapists.