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Soft Tissue Mobilization with an Instrument

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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.

Please note

This article is not intended to be a literature review.  While some literature may be cited in some cases, this article should not be used as scientific-evidence of a treatment or service.  Please contact your physiotherapist or other appropriate health care provider to better understand the scientific literature supporting or refuting the use of a particular treatment.

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