What is it?
Instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization or IASTM is a technique used by Physical Therapists to restore connective tissue health. It is another option to resolve pain and soft tissue restrictions in the body. The tool used will contour to the body as it is rubbed back and forth at an angle over the skin with light pressure. Because the tool is made of metal, it will create vibrations when moving over a myofascial adhesion and scar tissue.
How does it work?
IASTM stimulates healing be creating a controlled amount of microtrauma. The layers of connective tissue begin to separate from being stuck together. Blood will flow more from a local inflammatory response. This starts the RE-healing processs.
Adhesions within the soft tissue which may have developed as a result of surgery, immobilization, repeated strain or other mechanisms, are broken down with IASTM. Part of the RE-healing process is removing the unnecessary scar tissue and remodeling the tissue back to health.
What are the benefits?
- Reduce pain
- Improve joint range of motion
- Reduce scar tissue
- Improve muscle flexibility
- Improve muscle control with activity
When would you use it?
Dr. Tom will use the Ellipse Technique for instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization on clients who have tight muscles. He will find out where the tightness is coming from with movement testing followed by muscle palpation. Tightness can develop from posture habits, lack of movement, and poorly aligned of scar tissue.
Scar tissue is naturally produced after a surgery. If it’s not managed properly it can bind down muscle and joint movement. This is why most orthopedic surgeons will recommend Physical Therapy after surgery to prevent a loss of function from scar tissue formation.
Injuries older than 10 days can benefit from IASTM. That’s because a natural part of healing tissue is to shorten which affects the sweater-like connective tissue called fascia. Since fascia connects to just about every part of the body, pain and movement problems can be created.
Is this helpful for a certain diagnosis?
Because there are so many reasons for people to develop “issues in their tissues”, there are many diagnoses that may find IASTM helpful. We know that clients usually seek Physical Therapy when there is a problem like pain, so this is what we focus on most.
Otherwise, people who have the following conditions are likely to have “issues in their tissues” and it may make sense to treat with IASTM.
- Degenerative joint disease
- Degenerative disc disease
- Total hip replacement
- Failed back syndrome
- Total shoulder replacement
- Rotator cuff repair
- Total knee replacement
- Strained muscle
- Sprained ankle
- Runner’s knee
- Plantar fasciitis