What is IASTM – Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization?

Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM) provides direct manipulation of any soft tissue (fascia) restrictions using specifically designed tools. 

IASTM is largely used to break up tissue restrictions, awaken the nervous system to bring awareness to the area, and trigger healing. It’s also really effective at breaking up scar tissue! 

You may have heard of Gua Sha and Graston? Both are specific techniques using IASTM. IASTM is also called tooling, blading and scraping.

It Looks Extremely Painful!

You’ve probably seen photos where some techniques have left clients with painful looking bruises. I’m sure the treatment was painful, but IASTM absolutely does not have to be extremely painful or leave intense bruising to be effective.

How Does IASTM Work?

Fascia (a quick explanation of fascia can be found here) has 10x more nerve endings than muscle and therefore it plays an important role of communicating pain and body awareness (proprioception) to the brain. The layers of fascia within your body should glide smoothly, but sometimes it can become sticky from an injury, over-training, incorrect training, lack of movement…. 

While there are many methods of use for the tools from simple “feathering” to “gliding”, the tools are used to down-regulate a nervous system that is in a state of pain, or up-regulate a nervous system and bring awareness back to an area that is making it’s way back from a trauma or injury.

The “gliding” use of tools is to break up restrictions, and trigger points, within the tissue and to get that fascia gliding smoothly again.

The “feathering” use of tools is to bring awareness to an area of the body that may be in pain while creating a sort of neurologic comfort with those nerve endings sending “safe” messages to the brain.

Does it Hurt?

IASTM can be uncomfortable, but it does not have to be painful to be effective. Fascia is a great communicator!

While there are many types/styles/brands of tools, my tools of choice are stainless steel RockBlades.

IASTM is a wonderful complementary treatment method used in conjunction with Fascial Stretch Therapy. Contact me to book an appointment.

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