What is IASTM?
Instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) is a non-invasive technique used to treat fascial dysfunction due to soft tissue fibrosis, chronic inflammation, or degeneration. Physical therapists can use IASTM tools to break down adhesions and scar tissue. This improves range of motion and decreases pain so that proper mechanics can be reinforced and taught through exercise and other modalities. IASTM tools come in many shapes and sizes, but the most commonly used in PT practice are stainless steel, most recognized by the title Graston ®. The steel responds well with the tissue and is much more adaptable to different parts of the body where injury can occur.
How does it work?
IASTM affects the cellular level of tissue by decreasing scar tissue, improving blood flow and vascularization, increasing fibroblast proliferation, and remodeling unorganized, chaotic collagen fibers. What does this mean? It means it promotes healing on a cellular level so the tissue is stronger, more efficient, and is able to respond better to mechanical stress.
Does research support it?
Research definitely shows improvements while using IASTM, but is inconclusive if this modality is superior to other traditional therapeutic interventions. Despite this, there have been significant benefits with achieving range of motion in shoulders in collegiate baseball players, improving range of motion and function in chronic ankle instability, accelerating knee ligament healing, and other studies showing cellular improvement with collagen formation and organization.
What injuries respond best to IASTM?
Many! Any injury that has soft tissue restrictions may benefit from using IASTM tools. Here is just a short list of common injuries that may respond positively to IASTM:
- Tennis or Golfer’s Elbow
- Neck Pain
- Rotator Cuff Tendinitis
- Patellar Tendintis
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Myofascial Pain or Restrictions
- Muscle Strains and more!
Ask your Wallace & Nilan Physical Therapist is IASTM is right for you!