What is IASTM?
IASTM is the acronym for Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization. It is a type of manual therapy that utilizes stainless steel instruments to help heal soft tissue injuries through mobilization of the connective tissues, muscles, neurological tissues and skin. It is effective for soft tissue injuries like repetitive stress injury, strains, sprains, and subluxations. This soft tissue mobilization technique treats a wide number of conditions, including quadricep pain, rotator cuff pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, lower back pain, plantar fasciitis, tennis elbow, and even headaches. This technique has had proven results for patients.
How a Physical Therapist Implements IASTM
The first part of the treatment is a warm-up. Areas of the soft tissue fibrosis are moved to make the scar tissue more receptive. A stainless steel tool is used to follow the affected soft tissue injury. The edge of the tool slowly slides along the skin surface and comes into contact with what is known as adhesions, or scar tissue. The clinician rubs over the adhesions with the tool to cause friction that helps heal soft tissue injuries. The area of the injury is treated with repeated movements of the tool rubbing over and around it. The rate of rubbing and amount of pressure are adjusted during treatment. After treatment, the affected area is stretched. Our physical therapists may apply cold packs if there is any soreness. Typically, patients receive two to three treatments a week, over a period of about four to eight weeks. Patients can expect relief by the third or fourth treatment. Other healthcare providers who utilize IASTM include occupational therapists, chiropractors, and athletic trainers.
The benefits of the IASTM technique include:
- Increased rate of volume and blood flow to affected areas to enhance healing
- Breakdown of collagen cross-links
- Boost in cellular activity for good health
- Reduction in inflammation
- Reduction in pain for better quality of life
- Increased mobility and ability to perform daily tasks
The Science-Based Theory Behind IASTM:
Scar tissue is a type of fibrous connective tissue that receives less blood than normal tissue and stretches much less. The tissue tends to be thick and may build up around the ligaments, tendons, and muscles after an injury. Injuries that may result in adhesions include shin splints, pulled hamstrings, meniscal tears and much more. When an individual is injured, adhesions and scar tissue may occur either in the tissues or in the skin. It is believed that scar tissue and adhesions prevent the underneath body structures from moving properly. This is because the ligaments, tendons, and muscles are unable to freely move. This can be problematic because scar tissue and adhesions may bend to fascia and cause a condition known as fascial restriction. Adhesions and scar tissue can also occur on a smaller scale as a result of cross-linking of muscle fibers. Over time, even the wear and tear of everyday life can cause muscle fibers to adhere to each other irregularly. With IASTM, the treatment causes muscle fiber separation, which releases pain and increases functional mobility.
Facts on the Graston Technique®
Here’s the skinny on the Graston, a well-known form of IASTM, technique. It’s a technique that is embraced by many.
- More than 31,000 clinicians worldwide use it
- Part of the curriculum at more than 50 colleges and universities
- Used by more than 500 professional and amateur sports organizations
- Applied at more than 3,600 outpatient facilities
- Used by 16 NBA teams, 18 NFL teams, 16 MLB teams
Are you suffering from a soft tissue injury? Do you have a sports injury or injury from a car accident? Do you have scars or adhesions that are causing pain and limiting your movement? Give us a call today and learn how the IASTM can get you on the road to recovery. Our physical therapists are trained and experienced in this technique. Our goal is to help you live life to the fullest and without pain. We are committed to helping you heal. Contact Cypress Physical Therapy today!