What Athletes Need to Know About GISTM

July 27, 2015 5:18 pm Published by

What Athletes Need to Know About GISTM

By: Alex McVicker, PT, DPT
Director of Kempsville Clinic

Training for an upcoming mud run, but you had to stop running due to foot or heel pain? Sprinting the bases at a company softball game and pull a hammie? Experiencing elbow pain after an intense tennis match or round of golf? Whether you’re a youth or collegiate athlete or a weekend warrior, sports injuries are an unfortunate part of the game. running PT for Golf PT for Tennis

Not all injuries are severe enough to require medical attention, but some injuries seem to have a hard time healing on their own or just don’t seem to completely go away. That’s where physical therapy comes into play.

Physical therapists have a variety of modalities and manual techniques that they can use to accelerate the rehab of their patients including GISTM. What is GISTM you ask?

Graston Technique instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization. GISTM is a form of soft tissue mobilization that utilizes patented stainless steel instruments as an extension of the practitioner’s hands. The tools have been compared to a stethoscope. A stethoscopes job is to amplify what is heard by the ears, while the Graston instruments amplify the soft tissue restrictions felt by ones hands. Soft/deep tissue mobilization, cross friction massage, and trigger point release are some of the manual techniques used by PT’s to treat common sports injuries. All of these techniques can be achieved by the use of Graston instruments while shortening recovery time to the patients and decreasing stress and fatigue on the hardworking therapist.

Plantar fasciitis can be a stubborn overuse injury that afflicts runners. This typically arises due to repeated over-stressing of the thick layer of connective tissue or fascia that runs from the heel into the toes. As a result there are micro tears leading to scar tissue and thickening of the plantar fascia. It is common for therapists to address this by using hands on techniques that are tiresome. By using GISTM you can successfully achieve fascial mobilization and re-introduce the inflammatory cascade to allow for tissue healing while saving your CMC joints. You’ll even have time and energy left to address restrictions throughout the gastorcsoleus complex. Pulled muscles can lead to chronic issues if not treated appropriately. A pulled hamstring in the acute stage is more of an inflammatory response that progresses through the stages of healing. It leads to scar tissue that is laid down in an irregular fashion. Initially it would benefit from soft tissue mobilization and as healing progresses would benefit from deep tissue and cross friction massage. This will improve the mobility and parallel organization of the collagen fibers in order to return strength and function to their pre-injury state. The unique contours of the six different Graston instruments allows the clinician to select multiple tools to address these restrictions covering both large and small surface areas and treating both superficial and deep adhesions while conserving energy.

Tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow are common tendonopathies treated in outpatient orthopedics. These afflictions arise due to over use of the musculo-tendonous complexes in the forearm leading to inflammation and degeneration. Cross friction massage at the site of attachment leads to improved blood flow and decreased scar tissue in turn decreasing pain and improving functional ability. GISTM tools are designed to work with as much or as little force as deemed necessary by the practitioner and as tolerated by the patient. The rumors that it needs to be painful to be helpful are not true. In some cases, the weight of the tool itself may be all that is needed. A one-handed technique can be used for a variety of different strokes and modified pressures or a two-handed technique can be used to reach deeper adhesions. Injuries that are acute, sub-acute or chronic, muscular, tendonous or ligamentous, superficial or deep, all have been successfully treated with GISTM.

According to the Graston Technique website, the technique has had positive results in 75-90% of cases treated. You can find Outcome Summary Data for the 17 most common diagnoses treated with the technique and the average number of treatment sessions and success rates for each on the website.

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