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Instrument-assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization

Instrument-Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM)

Instrument-Assisted Soft-Tissue Mobilization (IASTM) is a group of treatment techniques which usually involve using a stainless-steel instrument to treat the myofascial system (muscles and fascia). IASTM is commonly used by physiotherapists and is a very popular technique for many. Learn more about IASTM below and find a clinic on Physio Roots!

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What is Instrument-Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM)?

Despite the long name, IASTM is a group of well known manual therapy treatments.  Some of the treatment names are patented and currently not listed on Physio Roots.

Physiotherapists performing IASTM usually use a stainless-steel instrument to mobilize soft tissue; however, there are a variety of instruments available.  Depending on the instrument being used, the intent of IASTM may be different. Therapists usually use the stainless-steel tools to treat fascia, which is a very strong tissue that is like a vacuum-seal around our muscles..  By applying gentle pressure over skin with the instrument, practitioners try to target the fascia to reduce adhesions created by a healed/healing injury, improve circulation and promote healing.  Instruments may be used for different purposes; it is best to discuss the treatment with your provider prior to commencing.

Many patients find IASTM beneficial in for reducing muscular pain and stiffness, and improving range of motion.  Like any treatment, the effectiveness of IASTM depends on many variables.  Your therapist should have a good understanding of the research and any risks associated with the treatment.  This should be discussed prior to treatment so you can make an informed decision as to whether IASTM is something you want to try.

This article is not intended to be a literature review. References to scientific evidence may be provided to substantiate some information; however, this may not always be the case. For more information regarding scientific evidence pertaining to a specific treatment or service, speak with your physiotherapist or contact your provincial physiotherapy college.
Last updated Mar 18, 2020