Graston Technique


Graston Technique, a popular form of Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization, is a treatment which uses stainless steel tools to dig deeper and more easily into soft tissue than the human hand.  The Graston tools were developed by Dave Graston, and are sold only to trained professionals for use in medical clinics.  To learn more about the company go to

Patients sometimes call Graston tools “the knives” because of their appearance, but they actually have dull, beveled edges which are fit to lift skin and mobilize through several levels of soft tissue.  Some refer to the treatment as “scraping,”  and some have even used the term “instruments of torture,” but one thing is for sure:  people keep coming back for it!!!

Below is tool #4, “the scanner.”  It’s a favorite, as it is easy to hold, and works well to zero in on an area of inflammation.

The tools, as we use them in the clinic, are designed with common body shapes in mind, being either concave or convex, and differing in size to fit almost any area of the body.  They can be used to break up scar tissue, promote circulation, or my favorite: to reset the inflammation cascade. Picture a cascading waterfall.  Water coming down from above cascades over the rocks through a series of pools, where some water remains, and some spills over to continue its journey downward. Think of the pools of water as inflammation that was headed downward, but got caught.  The water there neither rises, nor falls.  It just sits there continually stirred but always present. Chronic inflammation is like that.  It has reached a point where it is no longer declining; it is nagging, but never goes away.  That’s where the tools come in.  We use the tools to lift that inflammation back out of the “pool” where it is stuck, so it can continue its journey downward toward normal.

If you have chronic, nagging, soft tissue pain, this is one of the most effective treatments for leaving that chronic stage behind!


U (really) R wat U eat!

You really are what you eat!

The human body is constantly working to repair and replace cells and tissues, its building blocks.  So where do the building blocks come from?  From what we eat, of course!  There is no other way to obtain the needed building materials.  So what are you going to build with?  And how many kinds of  materials will you use?  If you were going to build a house, would you start with all nails and wire?  Would you pour the concrete, but neglect the lumber?  The prettiest paint colors will do no good without the drywall.  And how about the quality of your materials?  How would you like asbestos insulation and lead paint?

It’s the same with our bodies.  The end result is no better than the materials we use.

There are loads of excellent books published that will tell you what to eat.  There are also loads of fad diets.  There are loads of “experts,” and I will not pretend to be one of them.  What I will do is recommend some books that have helped me to add nutrition to our family diet, and have taught me WHY certain choices are better than others.

My favorite book on nutrition is Eat Right For Life, by Dr. Ann Kulze, available here:, or here:

I love this book because it is a quick read, and it has lots of pictures!  In short, it’s easy! It keeps my attention!  It is laid out much like a magazine, with text and tip boxes, attractive pictures, and best of all, it doesn’t just tell me what to eat…it tells me why!  I need to know why!  The “why” is my motive!

When our daughter Katy was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes last year (see post entitled “Our Diabetes Story”) this book was my primary guide in bettering our family diet.  The book is inexpensive as well, so at Christmas I gave a copy to each of my coworkers and patients.  I think the message is that helpful.

With that said, I will add that Dr. Ann does not discuss food intolerances, which I believe are an important topic to address with anyone…especially if they have digestive problems, or inflammatory diseases (see posts under inflammation and disease).  Gluten, dairy, nuts, and soy are four common foods that cause reactions, but each individual can have his or her own irritants.  I will plan to post more on that topic another time.  For now, I would like to highly recommend Eat Right For Life for your kitchen library.

Osteoarthritis, or Rheumatoid?

Today I had an interesting encounter with a new patient.  He was referred for therapy for two sore knees.  The patient, let’s call him Steve, was pretty certain he had Rheumatoid Arthritis because his pain has been severe in both his knees, and he had heard that Rheumatoid Arthritis is the “bad kind.”

There are two major types of arthritis: Osteoarthritis, and Rheumatoid Arthritis.  Osteoarthritis is inflammation in the joint, usually caused by wear and tear.  It’s more common with age, and occurs in joints that have seen some use and abuse in their time.  Steve is on his feet working on concrete all day long.  He has severe pain in both knees by the end of the day.  This is a common scenario leading to Osteoarthritis of the knees.

Rheumatoid Arthritis, on the other hand, is an AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE.   Autoimmune diseases occur when the body turns on itself and begins to target and destroy certain types of tissues.  The immune reaction may target the pancreas, causing Type I Diabetes, or the thyroid, causing Hashimoto’s Disease, or the joints, causing Rheumatoid Arthritis. A few others you’ve probably heard of are Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, Fibromyalgia, and there is even evidence that severe morning sickness is caused by an autoimmune response.  There are too many to list here, but if you google it, you may be surprised.

Back to Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA):  RA is a disease that attacks joint tissue without regard to wear and tear.  Young people, even children, can get RA.  Certainly wear and tear can worsen RA, but it does not cause it.  Typically a person with RA has multiple joints, in multiple areas of the body, which are painful, swollen, and can eventually become deformed.  Steve’s scenario did not fit RA because the only joints affected were the load bearing, impact absorbing, knees that have seen almost 30 years of standing and walking in Steve’s profession.

**Until recently, there seemed to be very few leads as to what caused autoimmune responses. There is growing research now however, that food intolerance, such as gluten or dairy intolerance may be behind autoimmune responses.  This happened in our own family.  If you haven’t read it, please refer to “Our Diabetes Story” posted under the Diabetes and Gluten Free categories.

Environment of Inflammation

I keep talking about an ENVIRONMENT OF INFLAMMATION within our bodies. What am I talking about? Why is it so important?
An ENVIRONMENT OF INFLAMMATION is a state in which the body is making and releasing harmful chemicals into the bloodstream that circulate, cause damage, and sometimes target certain tissues in the body. The inflammation is usually set off by something entering our bodies that we cannot tolerate. It could be an allergen, or a food that we are sensitive to.
When we are allergic, we tend to have dramatic reactions, such as visible swelling, hives, or even shortness of breath. Sensitivities are not so dramatic. They are sneaky little fellows that creep around under the radar for months to years before they are discovered. They wear down our organs, and can cause damage to almost any tissue in the body. They ruin our veins, and nerves. They cause autoimmune diseases, pain and fatigue.
It is for this reason that more attention than ever is now being paid to the things we eat, breathe or put in/on our bodies.

Chronic Disease

The human body is an incredibly complex creation! With all we know about it, we still have only scratched the surface in understanding it! For decades scientists have been researching the causes(es) of chronic inflammatory diseases. The list is long:
High Blood Pressure
Kidney Disease
Heart Disease
Multiple Sclerosis
Thyroid Disease
Some cancers
…and on and on…
Now we know that many of these diseases, even most, are caused by an ENVIRONMENT OF INFLAMMATION within the body. A what? What is an environment of inflammation?
This term refers to inflammation within the body that sticks around for many weeks to many years, under the radar. It doesn’t initially cause pain, a fever, or other signs, but it slowly eats away at our organs and our health. Like sandpaper rubbing over the dining room table, slowly the damage will reveal itself, but often too late for the damage to be reversed. Research shows that 60% of all deaths world-wide are caused by inflammatory diseases–they are killing us!
So what can be done about inflammation? How can it be prevented and stopped? I plan to outline a number of FRUITFUL STEPS I have learned to fight inflammation. They will center around appropriate exercise, and improved eating habits. (I’m trying not to use the word DIET, as it means “die with a t” to so many people). Some of these ideas have not yet reached the mainstream with physicians or the media, but they are gaining attention. It is said that it takes 10 years for an idea to catch on in health care. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to wait another 10 years to begin positive steps that I can take today to better my health! Please read other posts for inflammation fighting ideas.