Chiropractors are most well-known for their ability to manipulate and mobilize your spinal and extremity joints, but many chiropractors also perform soft-tissue work, including massage, to help relax your tight muscles and restore balance to your body. Your chiropractor may use tools to help her perform soft-tissue work, as tools enhance her ability to detect and treat problematic areas in your muscles and other tissues.
According to GrastonTechnique.com, the Graston Technique is used by clinicians, including chiropractors, to eliminate or reduce scar tissue and adhesions in your fascia -- thin, fibrous tissue that stretches, uninterrupted, from your toes to your skull. the Graston Technique is type of instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization that bears some similarity to Gua Sha (a traditional Chinese medicine scraping technique) and kerokan (a traditional Javanese folk medicine technique). A typical Graston set consists of six stainless steel tools, each possessing a carefully crafted beveled edge used to detect and treat problematic areas in your muscles and fascia. The six Graston tools are shaped differently, and they are designed to be used on different parts of your body. The beveled leading edge of your chiropractor's Graston tools helps her mobilize your tissues and relax your chronically tight muscles.
T-Bar Trigger Point Tool
According to Dr. Janet Travell, personal physician to President John F. Kennedy and author of The Trigger Point Manual, trigger points are hyperirritable points in your skeletal muscles that are associated with palpable nodules in tight bands of your muscle fibers. Trigger point therapy is intended to help reduce the size and pain-generating properties of your trigger points by using pressure, also known as ischemic compression, to stimulate your tight muscles to relax. Your chiropractor may use several tools to accomplish this task, including a T-bar trigger point tool. T-bar trigger point tools often are made of wood and resemble the letter "T." Your chiropractor may use T-bar trigger point tools with tips of varying size -- typically made of rubber -- to apply broad or focal pressure on your trigger points to help your tight muscles relax. Use of a T-bar trigger point tool enhances your chiropractor's ability to treat your trigger points and helps reduce the wear and tear on her hands.
Body Percussion Instruments
Your chiropractor may use a body percussion instrument to stimulate your nervous system, relax your tight muscles and reduce any spasms or cramps you might be experiencing. Body percussion instruments possess a vibratory or oscillatory mechanism to gently mobilize your muscles and reset your normal postural muscle tone, according to a 2005 study published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. The effects of body percussion instruments on your muscles are similar to the traditional massage therapy technique of tapotement, which is a Swedish massage technique that uses quick, rhythmic tapping or cupping movements, according to AltMedicineZone.com. If your chiropractor uses a body percussion instrument to stimulate your nervous system and relax your tissues, it's likely that she'll do this toward the end of your treatment, as it stimulates alertness. Your chiropractor also may use a body percussion instrument to treat your tight muscles before you receive a massage, as the combination of therapies often helps maximize your muscle relaxation.