Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM)
Many people have been hearing the term “fascia” or “fascial release” lately. Fascia is the tissue, primarily consisting of collagen, that surrounds your muscles, skin, and bones. It is designed to create stability as well as flexibility of the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. In a healthy system, muscles can glide without restriction. But when an injury occurs, fascial density increases and adhesions are created. Adhesions are also known as scar tissue. These adhesions limit the function and flexibility of the involved tissues.
Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization, or IASTM, is a technique used to first locate the adhesions, and then to create movement of the fascial tissues. It also promotes movement of blood through capillary beds, and stimulates neurological pathways and reflexes that affect muscle tone and mobility.
There are many specially designed instruments used for IASTM. In fact, the current use of IASTM is a modern evolution of a Traditional Chinese Medicine technique known as gua sha. The beveled edges and the ergonomic design of these tools allow the practitioner to specifically target the involved tissues with less wear and tear on our hands. We use “Rock Blades” from the same company that brings us Rocktape, our kinesiology tape.
IASTM is used in any condition in which there is limited motion or pain with motion. Some of the conditions for which we commonly use IASTM include:
- “tennis elbow” and “golfer’s elbow”
- rotator cuff tendinitis
- patellar tendinitis
- plantar fasciitis
- post surgical and traumatic scars
- ligament sprains
- muscle strains
- neck pain
- low back pain
- IT band syndrome
- myofascial pain and restriction
- chronic and acute ankle sprains