2 weeks ago I started working with someone here, locally, who also happens to be a TEAM SKIP Approved Trainer for Graston work.  I was born clavicles that rival that of Ken (the barbie doll) so if I have struggled with one body part for the last 35 years of my training, it has been my back. 

Where I may have started with zero calves and grew them into a pretty solid body part, my back has not had the same results.  Overall, I am not a very good bodybuilder.  If bodybuilding genetics were a poker hand, I was dealt a suited 4-5. Sure, you can build on that and end up "winning" but it's still incredibly difficult to compete with A-K suited, too -- the odds have never been in my favor.  This means that playing in lower-level poker games have been better options than ever thinking I could sit at the World Series of Poker and not get blown away.

Still, like the rest of us, we play the hand we are dealt and we do everything we can to progress and improve.

I continue to exhaust options in the gym by optimizing movements that help to provide more width and open up my back but I'm fighting an uphill battle here.  I'm at the point (and have been for some time) that I feel my training is about as optimized as it is going to get so I needed to look outside of the box.  This is where I ran into the Graston Technique.

In short, Graston is uses tools to manipulate soft tissue, break up scar tissue and adhesions and increase blood flow.  It isn't incredibly uncomfortable like some methods of soft tissue manipulation, but at the same time I can think of other things I would rather being doing than getting this procedure done twice a week, too.

I am always skeptical with things like this.  Years ago I was not at all convinced that chiropractic adjustments were going to save my lower back pain, but I was desperate and was running out of options.  It ended up that this decision saved my lower back and allowed me to start a rehab of my lower back that has now had me injury free for over 4 years.  My point? I don't want to leave any stones unturned because I can't possibly know what may help unless I try different methods.

I went into these Graston sessions without any preconceived notions -- either negative or positive.  I figured I would just give it a shot and if it helped, awesome.  If it didn't, I tried and would know that it didn't work and scratch it from the list of options.

It only took 2 sessions before I noticed a change.  Understand that not only do I need to open up both sides of my back for more width, but my left side has always tended to appear to not come out as far as my right side.  So, I also was hopeful that both sides would even out.

The first thing I noticed was that my left side was now slightly wider than my right and this was only after 2 sessions.  Originally, I thought this was just me  and my perception but it was very clear that there was a big change -- it was obvious.  After years of having my left side not come out as wide, to see it wider than my right side was promising.  If this could happen in only 2 sessions with more focus on the one side than the other (more focused on the weak side), I have little doubt that getting them balanced will not be an issue moving forward.

These sessions are done immediately prior to training back which I believe has also helped tremendously by increasing blood flow and ROM to my back muscles. 

Another thing that I noticed is that for years I would have to warm up very carefully and thoroughly because sometimes my left side of my back seemed to not "activate" or I couldn't feel that side as much.  It was subtle but after training for 35 years you become very tuned into your body.  After the Graston work, the load and work would feel balanced, equally, from left to right.

I am not saying that I will have a Ronnie Coleman lat spread in 6 months.  What I am saying is that there is no doubt that this is going to continue to help me overcome my back being such a weakness.  How much?  It's too early to tell but at least it's promising and I am glad that I was open to giving it a shot.  If there was, in fact, a weakness on the left side of my back, this would obviously play into things like chest pressing and other movements, as well.  Logically, I would think that rectifying this imbalance will also benefit development of other muscle groups, indirectly, as well.

There was a time where all I thought had to be done to get huge was to get to the gym and bang, go home eat, sleep and grow.  To excel at what we do the best we can, there is more to it and there are a lot of options out there that can help advance our progress and help to keep us all injury-free.  To deny these options would be to limit progress and put constraints on our potential.  If I was a genetically gifted bodybuilder, I may not need these options, but I'm far from gifted.  I will use anything that I think can help me to continue to get better.

I am optimistic that over the next 6-8 months my back will show improvement that I haven't seen, yet.  If I'm wrong, I will scratch it from the list and go on to the next option.