Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM)

IASTM has become a general term to describe the use of any instrument or tool to mobilize soft tissue.

Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization, IASTM, is a type of soft tissue manipulation (STM) that uses rigid devices to deliver directed and targeted forces to specific tissue to provide a mobilizing effect to scar tissue and myofascial adhesions.  The rigid devices can be made  of different materials to manage and treat soft tissue dysfunction.  These instruments provide a mobilizing effect to soft tissue to decrease pain and increase range of motion and function.  In addition, IASTM also allows deeper penetration into the tissue while reducing stress on the clinician's hands.

There are a number of benefits to IASTM.  For one thing, IASTM can be applied immediately on post-op conditions, such as total knee replacements, total hip replacements, and rotator cuff repairs to improve tissue mobility.  It also helps reduce pain, improve flexibility and range of motion, serves as an aid to improve dynamic balance, and complements manual therapy.

A few indications where IASTM may be utilized are limited range of motion, decreased soft tissue mobility, and muscle imbalance and weakness.  Some of the conditions that could potentially benefit from IASTM are as follows:

- Plantar Fasciitis

- Ankle Sprains

- Achilles Tendonopathy

- Post-tibialis tendonopathy

- Patellofemoral syndrome

- Total Hip or Total Knee replacement

- Bursitis

- ACL and Rotator Cuff Reconstruction

- Iliotibial Band syndrome

- Shoulder impingement

In summary, Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM) is an advanced form of myofascial mobilization primarily used to detect and release scar tissue, adhesions, and fascial restrictions.  Coupled with stretching and strengthening, IASTM is one of the many ways physical therapists are able to help patients and loved ones recover from their injuries.

Author
Lila Crowson MPT Lila completed her Masters of Physical Therapy at LSU Health Sciences Center-New Orleans. She has been a licensed Physical Therapist since 2001 and currently oversees and manages a talented team of therapists and technicians at the Orthopedic Center.

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