Is Graston or other muscle rubbing techniques helpful or snake oil? (Read 186 times)


Fight The Future

    While taking time off from running due to PF (sigh, self-pity, woe-is-me), I've been reading multiple sources that say that it helps healing if you break up the scar tissue or fibrosis in muscles or connective tissues by rubbing or pushing or "flossing" with balls, sticks, foam rollers, etc. I sometimes use The Stick, and it feels good, but hard to know if it's making things better or worse. I found this web site that argues that one of these sorts of interventions called the Graston technique is not supported by any scientific studies. Hmm, what do people think? Maybe foam rollers and all are good because they are simply another form of stretching? Does it actually slow down healing if you pound on tissues to break things up?

      For the first time in my 5 or so years of running I have been having PF issues since about mid-March.  It was only slightly irritating at first but worsened toward the beginning of May.  I never took any time off and I halfheartedly stretched my calf and just kept running.  It eventually became an all the time pain (the only time it didn't hurt was when I was running).


      I bought a strassburg sock and have been wearing it in the evening and to sleep and at night.  It has been about a week and it really seems to make a difference.  I no longer have pain when I get up in the morning and only slight twinges here and there during the day.


      I am only a sample size of 1 and I guess it is possible I am just recovering normally, but I certainly haven't been running less (although I cut back on speed work).  It has definitely seemed to help.

      Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul.


      Super B****

        Can't speak for PF, but I've had ASTYM on my ITB and it worked... it hurt, and I bruised like crazy, but it was worth it.

        chasing 5:59


        because i never shut up ... i blog


          I've never tried snake oil. Is it expensive?


          Chief Unicorn Officer

            I get massages frequently and I am a believer. My massage guy is really knowledgeable and it's more PT-esque than like, fluff massage. I have issues with my gluteus medius, piriformis, and hamstring attachment and it really does help--I'll go into a session feeling rotten and come out feeling so much better. Sometimes I can kind of feel it in my knees and in my overall stride movements that I'm just running smoother and looser afterward and nothing feels twerked up. Plus, I definitely sleep better in the days following a massage, which I'm sure contributes to better recovery and overall feeling fresh.

            Mile 5:49 - 5K 19:58 - 10K 43:06 - HM 1:36:54

              ART (active release technique) fixed an ITB problem I was having that refused to go away.  Never used it for PF.

              Live the Adventure. Enjoy the Journey. Be Kind. Have Faith!


                I've been battling some wicked PF for a while and have a nice solid knot at my heel/arch junction in the mornings. I wake up and massage that hard until it stops hurting so much and then run. Helps a lot.


                Later after the run and during the day I take the round, plastic covered end of a nice big spook and dig it in as hard as I can and flush out all the little spots that "pop". I guess that's the scar tissue as my other (non-hurting) foot doesn't have any of those little poppy things. Anyway, I hit that for a few minutes until the pain eases and that seems to help a ton, too. Have a Strassburg ordered and am looking forward to getting that.


                Anyway, long story short, yeah, I think the massage and muscle 'manipulation' or whatever definitely works. If nothing else, it seems to keep me running.


                Oh, and I'm really into self- myofascial or whatever it's called...I sit with a baseball or softball under my hamstring on a table and extend my leg hitting all the hyper-sore spots in the hamstrings and itbs. Helps a TON.

                Two Feet Under

                  I underwent several sessions of Graston for PF about 18 months ago. It was somewhat effective. It was also excruciatingly painful. I gave it up when it became clear that it wasn't going to help enough to get me running the kind of mileage I needed for a target race (Boston 2012) However, the diagnosis the Graston guy gave me was extremely helpful, which is that my PF was secondary to problems with my calves and Achilles. He said  I had a lot of shortening and loss of movement and resiliency in my lower legs from years of accumulated scar tissue that was causing my plantar fascia to do more work than it could handle so he focused most of his attention on my calves.


                  I limped along on my own continuing doing some of what he had done and then some other things I figured out myself. I was able to finally get back on the road after about six months of essentially no running and have run about 1200 miles so far this year and raced two marathons. PF seems to vary tremendously from person to person so don't take what I did as gospel for your specific problems. For example, other people have solved their PF doing what I believe helped cause or exacerbated mine, like wearing very stiff shoes, and I cured mine in part by doing what other people have to avoid to fix theirs, like going barefoot. So you'll probably have to try some different things to find out what works for you.


                  So here's what worked for me, roughly in order of effectiveness:


                  - Walking, then running, barefoot on the beach - this was the "miracle" I discovered by accident that got me from 0 miles/week to actually running again. I only ran on the beach for about 6 weeks, then transitioned to roads. Haven't run on the beach since.

                  - Eccentric contraction exercises for Achilles - probably the second most helpful thing. Google how to do them correctly - these are NOT "heel raises". I do them religiously now.

                  - Very flexible shoes (think Nike Free and equivalent) for both running and walking. I blame stiff running and everyday shoes for helping cause the problem in the first place.

                  - "Self-Graston", first with a big spoon like J-L-C, then with a device called Moji 360 (stick with metal roller balls, Google it), focusing mainly on calf muscles. I find a knot and work on it, It hurts but not nearly as much as when someone else was doing it.

                  - Strassburg sock - I think the sock provided symptom relief and maybe helped keep things from getting worse but didn't necessarily improve the condition.


                  Have faith. Others have come back from PF, there's no reason you can't.


                  Fight The Future

                    Thanks for the suggestions and reassurance. It's really frustrating, but at least mine is not so bad that I can't run. I saw from Nobby's post that it didn't seem to make any difference for him if he rested or ran, so I've been continuing as much as I can. I do think in my case it might be from years of running in stability shoes, and I'd like to work towards more minimalist shoes, but for now, I'm afraid to try (again) to switch. Will see if things get better with stretching, Stick, ice, ibuprofen, and then slowly try to transition to softer, thinner shoes. thanks again

                      I second the ART (active release technique) as being effective. My sports chiro used it on my achilles when I was having problems with it and it was 90% better after the first treatment. I had two more follow-ups, but I didn't even feel like I needed them at that point anymore. I later had it done on my IT Band for another fix, though the recovery wasn't as instantaneous.

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