Graston Technique Plantar Fasciitis – a Solution to a Huge Everyday Issue
When it comes to heel pain, the most common cause is probably plantar fasciitis. But what is plantar fascia? It consists of a band of tissues which connect your toes with the heel. The strain or stress may commonly cause a swollen, weak and irritated plantar fascia.
The result of irritated fascia tissue is that your foot’s bottom hurts when running, jumping and even walking. All these activities increase the strain on the tissue, which increases the probability of developing the plantar fasciitis.
The plantar fascia is mostly developed among middle-aged people, both inactive and active individuals. It is more common in those who are standing for prolonged periods of time in bad shoes as well as those who are increasing their running or walking. Plantar fascia can occur in one or both feet, and severe cases can be swollen.
In this article, I will explain what is fascia and how it affects our bodies, and share with you a beneficial and advantageous Graston technique, which helps to treat plantar fasciitis.
What is fascia?
Fascia seems to be a trending word in health and fitness industries these days. I have worked with many professional athletes who suffered from fascial restrictions, yet, when I would say the word “fascia” to my clients, the question which I typically got was “what is fascia”?
So, what is fascia exactly? To make it simple, let’s say that fascia is the body’s connective tissue. It is inside to out, head to toe, all-encompassing and interwoven system of fibrous connective tissue which is found throughout the body. The fascia provides a framework which protects your organs, individual muscle groups and your entire body as a unit.
For those of you who are visual learners, you can imagine your skin is just like the rind of an orange. In that example, your skin is the outer layer of the orange peel, and the white, thicker, fibrous layer which lies almost immediately beneath the peel would be your fascia. We all have that layer of fascia directly beneath the skin which envelops the body as a unit, giving another protective barrier between the deeper soft tissue and the skin.
How does fascia affect me?
Fascia provides the protective sheath around our body as a whole and also surrounds each muscle and organ for protection from external trauma. Our fascia also plays a crucial supportive role to the musculoskeletal system by enabling us to perform various functional activities like walking, jumping and running.
Nerves, muscles, and blood are enveloped and penetrated by fascia, allowing your organs and muscles to glide smoothly against each other. When you have fascial distortions and adhesions, this can cause weaker nerve impulses, poor blood flow, limited range of motion and flexibility, and a host of other physical ailments.
Distorted fascia unnecessarily causes so much tightness, pain, and discomfort. Those distortions can torque, pull and compress the body into malalignment. Studies show that fascial tension in one structure can cause issues and stress in adjacent structures. Plantar Fasciitis, just like other common conditions such as IT Band Syndrome and frozen shoulder are all attributed to distortions in your fascia.
How am I hurting my fascia?
Whether you suffer from a severe health condition or you are the poster child for healthy living, we all do little things every day which can negatively impact our fascia. Most of us are unaware that the way we stand, sit or even walk can hurt our fascia.
Each step you take with poor symmetry or form will create a microtrauma in your body which your fascia will have to compensate for. If you have an old injury which never properly healed, your fascia is working so hard to make up for the imbalance.
Fascia is protective by its nature and will adhere to protect or atone for imbalances. Just imagine that your fascia is putting a band-aid on every microtrauma! The band-aids are piling up and eventually, you have a big mess! This “mess” is what I’m referring to when I talk about distorted, tight fascia.
Causes of plantar fasciitis?
Any straining of the arch ligament may lead to this condition, and if the strain is repeated, then it will cause small tears in the ligament. All this can result is a swelling and extreme pain. There are some common causes of plantar fasciitis:
- A flat foot or high arch
- Foot overpronation
- Using old and worn-out shoes, primarily to run
- Increased body weight
- Work which requires lots of walking or standing
- Calf muscle spasms
The very first step after prolonged sitting creates a sharp pain in the plantar fascia. The stiffness and pain decrease after walking a few steps. The foot pain increases over time with the first steps in the morning.
It gets worse with increased activity and will hurt more when you climb stairs or run. Plantar fasciitis is often confused with posterior tibialis sprains at the insertion on the bottom of the foot. The tendon inserts on the arch of the foot, very close to the plantar fascia.
The Graston Technique
This technique is widely used in many Olympic, professional and collegiate sports therapy programs. Stainless steel instruments are created explicitly for treating Plantar fasciitis have rounded convex and concave edges. These edges are not sharp.
Graston tools are classified under Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilisation (IASTM) and are used to treat chronic inflammation or soft tissue fibrosis efficiently. Using these specific instruments, the practitioner can scan over and identify areas of fibrotic tissue.
Six different Graston tools are designed to help break up scar tissue or fascial restrictions that develop after trauma to muscles, tendons, ligaments or fascia- those are commonly referred to as soft tissue. When tissue does not heal correctly or is under repetitive, chronic stress, scar tissue forms. That tissue is weaker than connective, normal tissue and healthy muscle, and that is the reason why it becomes chronically sore when we are active.
Whenever tissue undergoes excessive strain or stress, scar tissue accumulates in the body. Scar tissue acts like the body’s duct tape- it is meant as a short-term patch to help support tissue. But sometimes, the scar tissue isn’t replaced with healthy collagen fibers.
I like to describe scar tissue patches as “onions”- scar tissue ends up growing in layers around the initial injury. Stress to the area aggravates the outside layers and triggers another layer to be formed. Every time a scar tissues patch undergoes strain and stress it becomes deteriorated and flares up. The epilogue- more scar tissue is added to the outside of the patch, and the process continuously repeats itself over and over, leading to more significant accumulation of scar tissue patches.
How Graston Technique improves treatment
Graston Technique, when added to any treatment significantly decreases overall treatment time. It decreases one’s need for anti-inflammatory medication and enhances rehabilitation. Many patients with chronic conditions show substantial improvement with Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilisation. Basic concepts and treatments with this technique:
- Decrease the strain and stress to the areas that are injured
- Increase blood flow
- Increase muscle strength and flexibility
- Decrease inflammation Break apart scar tissue
- Enhance functional movements
- Promote scar tissue repair
- Speeds up fibroblast activity
I recommend home therapies to restrict the formation of the scar tissue, speed up recovery and encourage proper healing. I also recommend supports and braces for specific injuries.
How does Graston Technique work? First of all, the practitioner stretches the outer layer of scar tissue and breaks it into several pieces. The Graston instruments use sheer force to pull the top fascial layer across the bottom fascial layer, and this pulling motion breaks up the scar tissue between layers. The damaged scar tissue activates body’s healing mechanisms which repair the soft tissues and muscles.
Ice therapy is beneficial as it can limit the formation of additional scar tissue, pain, and inflammation. Every time you visit the office, the practitioner breaks up the next layer of scar tissue, working toward the center of the “onion.” The purpose of getting to the center is that the body can fix the original problem. Many physical therapists, chiropractors, athletic trainers, and doctors have been appropriately trained to use the Graston tools.
Graston Technique is not painful and should be performed at a comfortably tolerable level. Being too aggressive with this technique causes excessive pain and slows the repair process by inflammation of an area.
Treatment commonly lasts a couple of minutes per region or area. As the Graston instrument slides across the soft tissue fibrotic regions, the injury may feel “bumpy.”. Mild swelling and redness may develop with treatment and are most common after the first few treatments. In some cases, even small bruises may develop post-treatment.
The majority of people notice a significant improvement after four to six visits. Severe cases may take a little longer to see substantial progress. As the treatment progresses, your healthcare provider will be able to apply more pressure, thereby treating deeper and deeper tissues
Plantar fasciitis is a common condition which is affected by poor form or symmetry while sitting, standing, running or even walking. The Graston technique proved very efficient in battling the condition, relieving the pain, inflammation, and stiffness.