Instrument-Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization
Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM) is an advanced form of myofascial mobilization. It is primarily used to detect and release scar tissue, adhesion and fascial restrictions. This technique enables a clinician to locate adhesion and restrictions in the soft tissue through the vibrations or undulations of the instruments. Once these areas have been identified, clinicians may then utilize the instruments to restore optimal function.
A typical IASTM treatment session is divided into 3 stages. First we warm up the tissue in preparation for treatment. Next we treat with IASTM. The final step entails gentle exercise and stretching to promote proper tissue movement. To avoid overworking the tissue, IASTM is performed for a very short time period — usually less than 10 minutes per body part. Some tenderness or redness in the area after treatment is not unusual and generally fades quickly. Most people begin to feel positive results, including increased range of movement and decreased pain, after three to five treatments.
IASTM is part of a nearly 2,000 year old eastern medical tradition named Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). TCM is becoming a widely accepted integrative healthcare model with a primary focus on prevention. IASTM is modeled after TCM's Gua Sha treatment modality. Used throughout different parts of Southeast Asia, and now worldwide, Gua Sha uses a scraping technique on the skin to create the red, bruised marks commonly seen with the IASTM treatment. Traditionally, thick oil is used to lubricate the skin before the smooth edge of the instrument is used to create redness and bruising (Sha) with a variety of long and short strokes.
In TCM the different colors have different meanings in the Gua Sha technique: Light red color means deficiency in blood; dark red means the condition is acute; black or purple means there is a chronic condition; brown means there is dryness and a lack of fluids in the body; and dark deep red shows an excess of heat. A Gua Sha treatment will successfully break up soft tissue fibrosis and decrease chronic inflammation in specific areas of the body.
Similarly the goal of the IASTM technique is to break the adhesions formed in and around the muscles to bring inflammation to the area. The inflammation brought to the area will create a healing process that will not only heal the new micro-traumas caused by this technique; but will heal the original damaged tissue that caused the adhesion to form in the first place.
Tampa Bay Holistic Wellness has partnered with Hawks Grips a leading manufacturer of IASTM Tools. Hawk Grips superiorly made tools are made of medical grade steel, which serve the clinician as a secondary diagnostic tool and are ergonomically designed for optimum delivery of treatment. Well manufactured tools also elicit a better response from a patient's soft tissue. Inevitably this allows for a more intensive, tolerable and effective treatment protocol resulting in a more positive outcome for the patient. IASTM can be incorporated as an add-on into any of our soft tissue treatments or it can be purchased as a stand-alone service option.