Are you an athlete that is plagued by pain in your shoulder or knee that won’t go away?
Have you developed plantar fasciitis from standing on your feet all-day or running?
Do you wake up every day with chronic neck pain and shoulder tension?
There are many tools available to manual therapists and body workers. Most of them are divided into tools or treatments that serve in correcting bony/hard tissue problems (i.e. chiropractic adjustments for aberrant joint mechanics) or soft tissue/myofascial problems (i.e. massage, ART, stretching, foam rolling, etc.).
Here at Rx Chiro we have spent years collecting as many tools as possible to service the individual needs of our clients.
To that end one of the most valuable tools we have found for treating soft tissue/myofascial issues is something called IASTM (Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization). Yes it is quite a mouth full, but the results are amazing!
What is a Soft Tissue injury?
A soft-tissue injury involves damage to the muscles, ligaments, tendons and/or myofascia. Sprains and strains are the most common soft-tissue injuries and are the result of either a trauma, such as falling or twisting an ankle, or repetitive use, such as a person who plays tennis five times a week and develops pain in his or her shoulder. Often it’s either misuse (i.e., the wrong muscles are used to complete an action) or over-use (i.e., using a muscle too often without proper recovery time).
There is almost always a soft tissue component associated with injury.
What is IASTM?
Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization is exactly what it sounds like. An Instrument of some sort to break of scar tissue or adhesions or other density irregularities found in the soft tissue. The types of Instruments/Tools used to do this can vary. The first instruments were actually used by the Chinese hundreds and maybe thousands of years ago in a technique called Gua Sha. They used porcelain soupspoons, jade trinkets and bull’s horn to increase blood flow along meridian lines.
In the west we began only a few years ago in the early 90s using instruments that were specifically designed to mimic the contours of the body. These new tools, being stainless steel, were tolerated much better than gua sha tools. There was less bruising and deeper penetration of the myofascia. This led to an eruption in the field of bodywork of different tools and techniques for mobilizing soft tissue.
In our office we utilize stainless steel instruments along with the Graston Technique. You can learn more about the Graston Technique by CLICKING HERE.
How does it work?
IASTM works in many ways. The primary mechanisms work to improve blood flow; to break up abnormal densities in tissue, such as scar tissue; and to restart the healing process.
For example: when an injury is sustained such as a lateral ankle sprain, the body responds by sending blood specifically the healing substances found in white blood cells to the injured area. New collagen is laid down quickly forming a scar, which works similar to a patch at the site of injury. All though the scar/patch is a normal response in the healing process, in the long run it can cause restricted motion in the surrounding tissue. This can lead to pain in the ankle when the person returns to running after the sprain has healed. In this particular case IASTM can be used to restart the healing process possibly reabsorbing some of that scar tissue or making it more pliable along side the surrounding tissue and returning the ankle to a normal pain free state.
What kinds of injuries respond to treatment with IASTM?
We have found the injuries—or types of injuries—that respond best to IASTM include acute and chronic spinal and extremity problems, such as tendinopathies, chronic neck and back pain, Achilles tendinosis, patellofemoral syndrome, chondromalacia patella, shoulder rotator cuff injuries, IT band syndrome and plantar fasciitis, among others.
How can you get an IASTM treatment?
For anyone that is currently a patient/client at Rx Chiro just book an “Advanced Chiro” Session by CLICKING HERE.
For other locals in St. Petersburg, FL that are not currently patients/clients we would love to serve you. Please feel free to visit the website (DrLanceRobbins.com) and book a New Client Session today.
For anyone else a good place to start is on the Graston Technique website and search for a certified practitioner.
For a list of research on instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization please refer to this link: