The body has multiple layers of soft tissue that are designed to slide and glide and pull and stretch allowing us to move. Muscles, tendons, and ligaments have beautifully organized fibers laying in meticulous directions. But when injury occurs, those fibers no longer lay in an organized pattern, but a gnarly mess. Sometimes pain occurs, sometimes poor movements result. So, what can be done to restore the organization? Soft tissue mobilization, a fancy way to say massage, can significantly help. There are multiple instruments on the market that can be used to help accomplish this. IASTM (instrument soft tissue mobilization) are specifically designed instruments that aid in the process. Made from a variety of materials these instruments allow providers to manipulate tissue as needed. While there are multiple brands/techniques on the market (such as Graston, ASTYM, and Gua Sha) the basic principle remains the same. Loosening up the fibers allows an increase in blood flow to the area, and they can be taught the proper way to lay. These changes lead to healing, pain reduction, and increase range of motion.
Common mistakes made when performing this treatment include too much pressure allowing for moderate/severe bruising, performing the treatment more than 4 days in a row, and failing to perform stretching or corrective exercises immediately after the treatment.
Overall, IASTIM is a highly effective, non-invasive, economic treatment option for both acute and chronic injuries.