Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) is a skilled technique that utilizes a specially designed tool to effectively and efficiently address soft tissue lesions and fascial restrictions. These uniquely shaped tools can conform to different body locations allowing for manipulation of the skin, myofascial, muscles and tendons with various techniques. These techniques allow a deeper release of the body’s restriction in comparison to just the hand.
What To Expect:
You physical therapist will first assess the the area with their hands and then choose the appropriate instrument. As the treatment begins you will feel pressure and the sensation of the tool running along your skin. A session can take anywhere from 5-15+minutes, depending on the area being targeted and the specific goal. After the treatment, you may experience slight bruising or small red dots called petichae which indicate a temporary inflammatory response to promote healing to the affected soft tissue, neither are abnormal. You may also notice an immediate improvement in your mobility. If you feel it necessary, it is best to place heat versus ice on the affected area post treatment to continue increased blood flow in order to promote effective tissue healing, but neither are required.
IASTM can be used both to help diagnose and treat. Diagnostically the tissues can be assessed to locate a restriction that may be leading to an impairment. Therapeutically, combined with other appropriate physical therapy tools, IASTM can be used to promote a healing inflammatory response, restore range of motion, reduce scar tissue and adhesions, decrease pain levels and improve your movement patterns.