Comparison of Compressive Myofascial Release and the Graston Technique for Improving Ankle-Dorsiflexion Range of Motion

J Athl Train. 2018 Feb;53(2):160-167. doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-386-16. Epub 2018 Jan 26.


Context: Restricted dorsiflexion (DF) at the ankle joint can cause acute and chronic injuries at the ankle and knee. Myofascial release and instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) techniques have been used to increase range of motion (ROM); however, evidence directly comparing their effectiveness is limited.

Objective: To compare the effects of a single session of compressive myofascial release (CMR) or IASTM using the Graston Technique (GT) on closed chain ankle-DF ROM.

Design: Randomized controlled trial.

Setting: Laboratory.

Patients or other participants: Participants were 44 physically active people (53 limbs) with less than 30° of DF.

Intervention(s): Limbs were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 groups: control, CMR, or GT. Both treatment groups received one 5-minute treatment that included scanning the area and treating specific restrictions. The control group sat for 5 minutes before measurements were retaken.

Main outcome measure(s): Standing and kneeling ankle DF were measured before and immediately after treatment. Change scores were calculated for both positions, and two 1-way analyses of variance were conducted.

Results: A difference between groups was found in the standing ( F2,52 = 13.78, P = .001) and kneeling ( F2,52 = 5.85, P = .01) positions. Post hoc testing showed DF improvements in the standing position after CMR compared with the GT and control groups (both P = .001). In the kneeling position, DF improved after CMR compared with the control group ( P = .005).

Conclusions: Compressive myofascial release increased ankle DF after a single treatment in participants with DF ROM deficits. Clinicians should consider adding CMR as a treatment intervention for patients with DF deficits.

Keywords: manual therapy; muscle tightness; soft tissue mobilization.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ankle Injuries / etiology
  • Ankle Injuries / prevention & control
  • Ankle Joint / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knee Injuries / etiology
  • Knee Injuries / prevention & control
  • Knee Joint / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Manipulation, Orthopedic / methods*
  • Massage / methods
  • Posture
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Treatment Outcome