Monthly Archives: March 2016

Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization – Part Deux


After seeing the responses, shares, likes, etc from last weeks blog on Less is More, I wanted to take a few moments to expand on the foundations of IASTM and provide y’all with some points to think about when considering adding this treatment to your clinical repertoire.

The General Consensus

Like every other technique we use and know works- more research is needed. I am by no way shape of form a “research guru” and i really strive to use the take true evidence informed practice to heart. The basic jist is that from a mechanical standpoint, there are a lot of proposed methods of how the technique works.  Quite a bit have merit, but more in-depth studies need to be done.  In general we know when you increase perfusion to the tissue, health properties can increase.  There are also some studies that have looked at increased fibroblast production and others that have show an increase in MMP-1, which is an enzyme that cam break down unwanted collagen (Schleip).

From a neurological standpoint we know there are roughly more than 500 nerve endings per sq inch of skin and of those nerve endings, 80% are sensory fibers that have a high concentration of interstitial receptors.  These receptors are highly adapting mechanoreceptors that respond best to light touch and pressure.

Why Tools vs Hands?

There are lost of reasons why you might want to use tools…  For starters, it sure is a nice way to save your hands!  That’s half true and half kidding.  When done right, it truly is a great way to save your hands.  There is no need to “dig” or “rake” at their skin so the pressure you use is not forceful/etc.

I think it’s important for people to know that this technique is not meant to replace your hands.  A great clinician will use this tool (pardon the pun) as a way to enhance what they feel with their hands and as well use it appropriately in conjunction with other manual techniques.  Personally I always do hands on manual therapy first prior to using any tools.  I want my hands to tell me first what’s going on and then fine tune it some more with the tools.

Treatment Progressions Options

In the ideal world, static before dynamic and unloaded prior to loaded techniques.  Think about it this way- stick to static techniques with your early stage patients and/or acute cases.  You’ll start wanting to get into some dynamic techniques once you have progressed and you’re attempting to use the tools to help retrain some motor control issues or reinforce the good movement.

What Tools Do I use?

My personal preferences are The Edge Tool ( and Smart Tools (  These are my preferences, but it’s good to note that there are TONS of options out there.  Graston, ASTYM, Hawk Grips, Myofascial Releaser, Fat Tools, Reflex hammers, butter knifes, etc.  I think they all have their positives and all have their limitations.

Where to Find Education on IASTM

Obviously you can go straight to Medical Minds In Motion and search through our seminars.  We will be in Las Vegas, NYC, Boston, Hattiesburg, Houston and many more locations between now and the end of May.  Keep checking back for more info on future dates!

– Daigle Out