How To Do Graston Technique On Yourself

Last Updated On

The Graston Technique has quickly become one of the most popular recovery trends in the health world.

Many health professionals like physical therapists and chiropractors have seen the benefits that muscle scraping offers and adopted it into their practice. 

The beauty about the Graston Technique is that you don’t necessarily need to see a professional for it — and you don’t need to spend the thousands of dollars on courses or tools to reap the rewards of muscle scraping. 

In this article, we’ll dive into how to do the Graston Technique on yourself, and discuss things to watch out for so that you can feel confident and safe.

Let’s begin!

Is It Safe To Do The Graston Technique On Yourself?

The Graston Technique is a form of muscle scraping, and muscle scraping is perfectly safe.

It’s kind of like massage, where you can quickly tell if you’re pushing too hard or if you’re hurting yourself.

That being said, some people prefer to have someone else do it for them simply because it’s easier and they’re more able to get a deeper tissue massage effect when someone else does it — a lot of athletes and bodybuilders prefer this when they muscle scrape. 

As long as you follow the steps we’re about to talk about and keep an eye out for anything out-of-the-ordinary (which we’ll also talk about), it’s safe to get started with the Graston Technique today!

You also might want to check out this article to see a real Graston Technique before and after.

How To Do The Graston Technique On Yourself

The Graston Technique is fairly similar to IASTM, Astym, or Gua Sha in terms of performing it.

The key is to begin slow and listen to your body when it tells you that you’re pushing too hard or staying at one spot too long.

Check out these steps!

1. Finding The Right Tool

There are so many muscle scraping tools out there for muscle scraping that you can choose from.

However, the Graston Technique famously uses stainless steel instruments of all shapes and sizes.

Graston Technique Instruments

This variety of tools lets you hit anything from your small hand muscles to your big leg muscles, allowing for a more focused approach depending on your target area.

That being said, if you want to get the official Graston Technique tools, be ready to shell out close to $2,500!

This price is massively inflated because you’re paying for the ‘official’ name brand, despite much more affordable tools being able to do a very similar job.

While this might be a worthwhile investment for a physiotherapist practicing in a clinic, it’s not very practical for the average at-home user…

Find Budget Friendly Graston Technique Tools

Luckily, there are some really affordable yet still highly effective alternatives out there.

I recommend the Sidekick tools as they’re significantly more affordable than the Graston tools and are designed to be used by athletes at-home.

Feel free to check out my full review of the Sidekick tools!

I personally like to use the Sidekick Bow when working on my legs and hip muscles. 

Sidekick Bow Tool

The shape and size is perfect for hitting the lower body, especially when you’re sore after a run or a tough leg day. 

If I want to do the Graston Technique on smaller muscles like my plantar fascia or forearms, I use the Sidekick Curve tool. 

Sidekick Curve Tool

It’s perfect for helping me loosen up, allowing me to be more mobile in the gym and also recover better after an intense arm day.

You can also get yourself a set of STICKON stainless steel IASTM tools that’ll also do a half decent job!

Stickon IASTM Tools

These tools are significantly more affordable and provide virtually the same stimulus as the official Graston instruments, so they’re a far more accessible option for muscle scraping at home.

2. Inspect The Target Area

Once you got your tool ready, check out the area you want to scrape. 

You want to make sure there’re no open wounds, and clean the spot you want to hit. 

Going over the target area with your hand will help you feel if there are any knots are tight muscles as well — if you feel a knot or a crumbly/crunchy type sensation, that probably means it’s a good spot to try and loosen up!

3. Apply Emollient

You need to have some sort of lubricant over top of the target area you want to do the Graston Technique on. 

This is because, as you may imagine, scraping a hard tool over top of dry skin might not be the most comfortable and can cause scrapes, so applying a bit of lotion over top of the muscle is important.

I recommend the official Graston emollient, but there’s plenty of different options you can choose from that’ll all do a decent job.

Graston Technique Emollient

Don’t slather a thick layer on yourself either — just enough for your tool to glide smoothly will do the trick!

4. Begin Scraping

Let the fun begin!

Start with some light, slow strokes to get the blood rushing into the muscle and get the site “warmed-up” for about 10-15 strokes, all in one direction.

Once the muscle is warmed up, gradually increase the pressure on the tool to hit the muscles deeper. 

Stay on one spot for about 10-20 seconds, still scraping in one direction for each stroke.

Move on to the next spot for the next 10-20 seconds — you can always come back to a spot later on. 

At this point, you want to apply a consistent, moderate pressure on your tool — it shouldn’t be painful, some discomfort is expected, but listen to your body when it wants you to ease off on the force you’re putting down.

Generally, you want to try to go the length of the muscle evenly, but for larger muscles like the quads you may have to break that up into sections — this is fine, consistency is the main goal!

Wait about 2-3 days in between scraping a specific muscle, or at least until the redness goes away. 

This is to make sure that you’re not overdoing it and actually hurting yourself — your body needs time to recover and do it’s job to heal the inflamed spots, so give it a bit of rest. 

5. Reap The Benefits

How quickly you feel relief from muscle scraping depends on a couple of things, including:

  • Intensity — If you’re pushing super hard and working through your muscle more intensely, it can take longer for the bruising to go away and for you to feel more relaxed.
  • Time — How long you spend scraping, along with how often you scrape a muscle during the week can change the time it takes to recover from a session. 
  • Experience — Initially, you may feel a bit sore for longer after a scraping session, but after having done it a couple of times your body will get used to it and feel relief quicker.

Generally, it takes about 1-7 days for someone to feel relief with the Graston Technique — again, this depends on several things. 

Be patient and stay consistent, and you’ll be sure to reap the benefits in no time!

Things To Watch For When Doing The Graston Technique On Yourself 

There are a couple of normal “side effects” of the Graston Technique that you can expect:

  • Redness — The Graston Technique aims to rush blood into your target tissue, which will usually cause a bit of redness on the skin. 
  • Bruising — Since this is similar to a deep tissue massage, you might experience some bruising on your skin. Some people bruise easier than others, so you might not have any!
  • Soreness — As I mentioned, the Graston Technique can be a bit uncomfortable and cause a bit of muscle soreness, but this should disappear shortly after a session.

Now, there are a couple of things you want to watch out for as well, just to make sure that you’re not actually going backwards in your recovery process:

  • Lasting Pain — Since soreness is expected to go away shortly after a session, having pain that lasts or worsens over a couple of days is a good sign that you’re going too hard, either with time spent scraping or how hard you’re pushing. 
  • Bleeding — A bit of blood through some light scrapes is nothing to worry about, but if you’re causing big wounds or cuts check how much lotion you’re using and how hard you’re pressing the tool.
  • Increased Tension — The Graston Technique is supposed to loosen up your muscles, not tighten them. If your muscles are tensing up more, check how frequently and how intensely you’re going at muscle scraping.

Conclusion

There are definitely effective and safe ways to do the Graston Technique on yourself, saving you from a pricy trip to a health professional. 

Being able to pick from a wide variety of affordable tools and use them whenever and wherever you need can be game-changer for your recovery, and something worthy to look into for anyone. 

Make sure to listen to your body, not pushing to the point of pain, and enjoy the benefits of the Graston Technique!

Photo of author

Eric Richter

I'm Eric, a physiotherapist with a Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology and a Master’s degree in Physiotherapy from the University Of Manitoba. I have enjoyed the better part of a decade working with both amateur and professional athletes, weekend warriors, everyday people, and patients at hospitals to help them take control of their pain and reach their health goals.

Learn more about me...