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Graston Technique and Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis can be debilitating. Sharp, stabbing pain underneath the foot, first few steps are brutal in the morning. It can be a chronic issue that’s really tough to get rid of.

Maybe you’ve tried night splints, physical therapy, orthotics…all to no avail. Graston therapy could be right for you. This highly specialized and precise soft tissue technique is a great way to specifically target the inflammation and pain associated with plantar fasciitis.

What is Graston?

Graston is a type of soft tissue therapy that uses a stainless-steel instrument. For that reason, it is also known as instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization. It dates back years and years, with its origin in Western medicine as “gua sha” using a stone, like jade or rose quartz, to perform soft tissue treatments, to help reduce inflammation and treat chronic pain.

Graston therapy is sometimes referred to as a scraping technique. It is used on tight muscles or adhesions to bring new blood flow to the area and facilitate healing. It is highly successful in the treatment of fascial restrictions, muscle and tendon dysfunction.

So, what exactly does this mighty tool do, and what is it used for?

Graston Technique Benefits

Decrease pain

The scraping action of Graston helps to decrease inflammation and promote blood flow. New blood flow brings in new oxygen and new cells to help heal as well as clean up waste and eliminate inflammatory chemicals. In this way, Graston technique for pain therapy is effective.

Acute, chronic and/or post-surgical conditions

Graston is great for acute inflammatory conditions (like plantar fasciitis), chronic conditions and post-surgical conditions that have led to a build-up of scar tissue due to limited motion.

Faster recovery

Because of its effectiveness, Graston leads to accelerated recovery time, along with minimized amount of treatment time necessary to get the job done.

Restore range of motion and normal function

Movement is life! Scar tissue, inflammation, pain…it all leads to limited movement. If we don’t have movement we have stagnant blood and it continues like this in a vicious cycle. In treating those three things, Graston helps to restore motion and therefore normal function.

Graston technique benefits are vast. Because it is mostly for soft tissue it is most used in conditions affecting tendons and muscles. The technique has become so widely used, that the type of stainless-steel instrument comes in all shapes and sizes, making it perfect for dealing with all areas of the body – be it the tiny crevices in the wrist, broad muscles of the lower back or long plane of the Achilles.

Clinical Conditions Treated with Graston

Here’s a list of the more common conditions treated with Graston Technique

What to expect with Graston Treatment

We don’t love the saying “no pain, no gain.” But with Graston technique, that may hold a little bit of truth. The area that needs Graston therapy is often riddled with scar tissue or trigger points – generally uncomfortable when rubbed or worked on. Therefore, there is some discomfort with Graston therapy, however as someone who has had this type of treatment done, it can sometimes be a “hurts so good” kind of feeling.

Remember the “Gua Sha” origin of Graston? Well in Chinese, “gua” means to scrape or rub and “sha” is a reddish dotted-petechiae, used to describe blood stasis in the area. Hence, gua sha, and thus its successor, Graston, literally translates to scraping for blood stasis. As a side effect, red dotted petechiae or bruising can occur in the area being treated.

What is Plantar Fasciitis

If you’re a frequent UWC blog reader, maybe you’ve seen our past ones about plantar fasciitis causes and treatments.

Plantar Fasciitis is SUPER common, and it’s pretty complex. The plantar fascia, as its name states, is a band of fascia or connective tissue that runs from the bottom inner part of the foot from the toes to the heel.

Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the plantar fascia and can be caused by:

  • Poor foot biomechanics
  • Old Injuries
  • Postpartum
  • Hypermobility
  • Poor workout form

It is typically more common in runners, especially those who are heel strikers – resulting in excess pounding on the plantar fascia. Anything that produces more pronation of the foot – falling in of the arch, or flattening of the foot – puts excess pressure on the plantar fascia and can cause plantar fasciitis. Improper orthotics or overuse of orthotics can also irritate the plantar fascia.

Graston technique is often a go-to for plantar fasciitis treatment because helps break up scar tissue, decrease inflammation, reduce pain and restore normal motion of the foot. Because the technique is so highly effective, we typically see results quickly, often in just one visit, and the effects are long-lasting even when dealing with a chronic condition.

Case Study

A recent case that came to the clinic was a 36-year-old female with right heel pain for about 3 months. It was classic plantar fasciitis symptoms – sharp stabbing pain sometimes aching, worse with first steps in the morning, that increased with exercise, especially running and yoga. She was a former dancer and suffered Achille’s tendinopathy that forced her to end her dancing career. Neurokinetic therapy testing found an overworking right plantar fascia causing inhibition of her right glut max and an inguinal hernia scar inhibiting her core.

Graston technique was used to release the plantar fascia and decrease inflammation. She was also given exercises at home to increase big toe mobility on the right to allow for push-off of the right foot – which is necessary for mobilization of the plantar fascia and prevention of scar tissue formation. Her pain was dramatically decreased after just one Graston treatment. Ankle mobility, glute activation and core stability were also addressed to prevent re-exacerbation and reinjury.

For Graston technique in NYC or if you have more questions about Graston technique and are wondering if this treatment may be right for you, feel free to call 212-355-0445 or email us at


Dr. Adriana Lazare, DC