I am very happy to now provide IASTM (Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization) techniques for my clients with acute / chronic pain and injuries.
IASTM uses a combination of techniques that I commonly use (from orthpedic massage and physical therapy methods) with instrumented assisted soft tissue mobilization techniques commonly used in the physical therapy and osteopathic fields. Until this time IASTM, or simply ASTM, training has been limited to physical therapy, chiropractic, and osteopathic doctors, but now includes licensed massage therapist as well, which totally makes sense to me since LMT's are soft tissue therapy experts.
IASTM is derived from a ancient Chinese medicine technique called Gua Sha, which has traditionally been practiced with various shaped tools made from stone. Gua Sha was believed to work by bringing blood to the areas of congested tissue bringing forth detoxification and stimulating a healing response.
Modern day IASTM uses both traditional Gua Sha stones along with modern stainless or titanium tools with various shapes and sizes. Science has show IASTM to provide significant improvement healing injured muscles, tendons, and soft tissue while supporting remodeling of restrictive scar tissue and decreasing pain. It is believed IASTM also works by altering the neuropsychological pain cycle thereby reducing pain, even in long standing chronic cases. IASTM is commonly used in the field of sports medicine and in chiropractic, osteopathic, and physical therapy offices.
Over the past several years I've had a few clients presenting with injuries that I was not able to facilitate the level of improvement I normally would expect. These clients eventually gained significant improvement from ASTM provided by physical therapy. I wanted very much to take this training however at that time it was limited to PT, DC, and OT, doctors only.
It wasn't until recently, while treating a persistent evolving overuse issue on my forearm that I discovered by chance the power of IASTM using a massage tool I commonly use for deep tissue therapy. Within minutes two months of persistent pain in my arm reduced 95%, and remained that way. Then remembering previous comments from by clients who had experienced IASTM with physical therapy, I went on a search to see if there were yet any training available for licensed massage therapist. I was excited to find a team of physical therapist, one of which is the lead PT for the Boston Red Sox, had created a training for PT's but also included licensed massage therapist.
For what conditions could IASTM be potentially helpful?
IASTM is commonly used for tight/restricted soft tissue, tendon and ligament injury, neuromuscular trigger point treatment, chronic pain, muscle tension, restricted range of motion in neck, shoulders, legs, hips.
How Does IASTM work?
There are numerous theories how IASTM works to reduce pain and support healing. Though the actual way it works is not clear, what is clear, is that it does seem to facilitate healing and remodeling of injured tissue, reduce or eliminate pain, increase range of motion, improve sports performance, and improve the quality of life. Here is a short video showing how IASTM helps with adhesive tissue.
Here is a good example of IASTM for plantar fasciitis
Incorporating IASTM into your massage therapy session
IASTM is only applied when indicated and desired. Typically only 2-5 minutes of treatment time is required per application per area. For optimal results we may incorporate passive and active range of motion along with other neuromuscular techniques along with the ASTM. ASTM may be included along with your massage therapy and may also be a stand alone-short duration, focused therapy (see my new option for 1/2hr focused therapy sessions to be announced shortly).
I am very grateful to have IASTM to add to the options have been using to help my clients achieve their goals when they come to me for help.
Please feel free to contact me if you would like to know how I may help with your specific concerns.