There's a new buzzword going around the manual therapist's newsfeed around the world now. IASTM, also know as Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Manipulation/ Mobilzation. This additional modality is picking speed like wild fire across the globe for its efficacy and the plethora of clinical cases that practitioners can apply it into. Iastm is a very safe, non invasive, portable and the duration of soft tissue works last no more than 90secs on areas that needs to be treated. Let’s dwelve deeper into why practitioners everywhere are picking this up!
What is this therapy tool? The IASTM tools that are used widely by practitioners nowadays are mostly made up of Surgical Steel. The therapist will then use this tool to glide across the skin to feel for any peculiar feel of the soft tissues, this leads the therapist to proceed and see what might be the underlying soft tissue that may have a big impact on the current patient. This particular gliding on the skin using the tools helps to feel far deeper and more constant by giving the therapist feedback from vibrations that is given back via resonation of the tools upon gliding across the tissues. One can as well use the tool for both Diagnosis and Prognosis purposes, which again is a very quick and simple indicative of looking at how fast the body is flushing waste product out of the affected area. Through Myofascial Induction, the practitioner uses a specific technique to induce change in the connective tissue. The best part is, only two people can feel if there is any restrictions or soft tissue build up, the therapist and the patient.
Who can use this tools? It's mostly preferred by providers that offer treatments to musculoskeletal dysfunctions as IASTM is usually complimented or accompanied with other types therapy which may include corrective exercises, joint mobilizations or just about whatever your current practice background is. Though anyone with a keen interest can still pick it up to learn self management.
Why so many different tool? Most IASTM tools are made with a vast difference of shapes and sizes due to ergonomics for the practitioner's handling, contours to fit different parts of the body, angles to help exert more force for deeper soft tissue work and of course the patients comfort. There isn't a one tool fits all unfortunately as there will be parts of another tool which will help you work more efficiently around certain body part area.
Why should I use the tools, not my hands? If you already are doing manual therapy then you would know that sometimes you can't go deep enough, tired hands, fatigued fingers and can spend quite a bit of time with patients applying techniques that applies the same concept with IASTM just a lot more shorter with time. Using the tools will help in terms of providing the therapist better leverage to apply deeper force, save hands from fatigue and get better feedback from the soft tissue. While IASTM is NOT supposed to replace your hands, it helps practitioners feel more and get deeper feedback from resonation via the tools, allowing your hands to do what they do best. The resonation from the tools are somewhat how bats uses echolocation to locate food/ navigate their way around, we use the the tool to navigate and feel for soft tissue irregularities etc.
How to start You can start with a very simple technique called scanning. Here you will be able to feel some tissue irregularities both superficial and deep tissues. This is done at the very beginning of most IASTM induced work thereafter you apply specific trchinqies based in your desired outcome or goals.