Instrumented Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization
Want to learn more about Instrumented Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization?
What is it?
Instrumented Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM) is a popular technique used in many clinics to reduce pain & increase a joint’s range of motion (ROM) post-injury. The instruments used can be hard plastic or metal & they go by several names including Graston & Hawkgrips. They are popular treatment interventions for physical therapists because they are minimally invasive, easy to use, & relatively inexpensive.
Does it actually work?
There has been a significant amount of research trying to determine if it works. Overall, studies have found that IASTM is effective in improving short-term ROM post-injury in both the upper and lower body & in reducing pain in the short-term. However, studies also suggest that IASTM does not produce an immediate effect in muscular performance in healthy people.
So, how should it be used?
Since this treatment only has short-term effects on ROM & pain post-injury, it is important to make sure that IASTM is not the primary treatment for injured athletes. It needs to be well integrated into an overall plan of care that also focuses on long term effects (ex. exercises & stretching). Since IASTM did not show immediate effects in muscular performance in healthy participants, it might not be beneficial to use this intervention as a pre-performance warm-up. Instead, time can be spent on more proven methods, which we will explore in future posts.
Take home message
IASTM appears to be an effective means of treatment post-injury to help you move better with less pain in the short term!