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Brief History of IASTM (instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization)

Brief History of IASTM (instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization)  And, What will the Future Bring for this Niche Therapy.

Massage aides are an intuitive extension of the human hand recognized by nearly all cultures over a vast range of historical periods.   Gua Sha tools and Asian medicine “cups” go back hundreds even thousands of years.   T-Bars, Trigger Point tools, and roller massage tools have become common in the West for over 50 years.

How & where did IASTM develop in America?

In the USA around the mid 1990’s a diverse group including a recreational athlete and his friend, a Ball State University medical researcher, and a venture capitalist were involved in the development of the first medial quality stainless steel edge tools.   They disbanded within a short time to pursue their own individual interests in the market.   Their prospective companies did well to promote the widespread use of quality instruments as aides for manual therapy based on a Cyriax rationale of micro-trauma and tissue remodeling.

Where has it gone from there?

Ball State University medical researchers, along with independent clinicians like Warren Hammer, Tom Hyde, and Terry Loghmani contributed much to the published research and professional education concerning the IASTM clinical protocols in widespread use from 2000-2010.   Recently, with improving science-based rationales for manual therapy centered on the study of fascia, there has been a growing interest in practicing manual therapies by numerous professions worldwide.

What can we expect from IASTM?

Anyone can guess what the future will bring regarding this niche technique.   I’m guessing that by improving access to the smaller scale of anatomical structures, and by easing strain to the practitioner when treating the larger scale of myofascial anatomy, IASTM will continue to evolve as an essential manual therapy approach.

Treating Fascia with Myofascial IASTM tools or Traditional Hand Contacts?

Treating Fascia with Myofascial IASTM tools or Traditional Hand Contacts?

There are hands on “purists” out there that believe nothing is better than traditional hand contacts for myofascial release, trigger point therapy, Active Release Technique™, Orthopedic Massage, Structural Integration™ and/or Fascial Manipulation™.    Well, they are right- the thumb, finger, palm, forearm, and elbow are always going to be the essential interface connecting the healing energy of the practitioner with the structural dysfunctions of a patient.

Can Myofascial tools REALLY offer

more for my practice?

A well designed myofascial tool is designed either for smaller more focal work, or to provide leverage for large deep strokes that will expand your treatment capabilities.   A smaller point or edge contact (less surface area) allows access to smaller anatomical targets.

Try as you may, you cannot get your finger or knuckle into joint capsule recesses or really close to nerve and tendon channels. It’s a simple matter of scale.   You can’t park a truck in the same space as a motorcycle.

For large deep strokes in the back, hip, & leg you can generate plenty of force with a palm, forearm, or elbow contact.   And, these are still preferred with some approaches (illiopsoas or quadratus lumborum for example).   But… there are some drawbacks to these contacts- mainly that they are hard to control and physically demanding for the practitioner.   A myofascial bar gives you an option to perform a deeper stroke with more control and less effort.

Can it still be a “hands-on” practice?

Myofascial tools are indispensable for daily practice of soft tissue therapies- they are a direct extension of the hand.   There’s no reason for not considering them “authentic” hands-on contacts to expand the capabilities of your technique of choice.

Soft Tissue Therapy with IASTM Tools, What’s the Big Deal?

Soft Tissue Therapy with IASTM Tools, What's the Big Deal?

Manual therapy takes time and is hard work, right?   But, practitioners who spend even a little bit of time on key myofascial points will often see tremendously improved results.   In my experience even 3-5 minutes of soft tissue therapy is the key to unlocking a faster recovery, and making your treatment plan a success.

Take it from me, I've been there...

Back in 1999 when I started practice, I had 20 minute appointment slots which consisted of general trigger point massage, PIR stretching, joint manipulation, followed by a quick home exercise lesson.   I was happy with my results for the most part, but felt that there was so much “soft tissue” ground to cover for any given case, that I couldn’t work all the areas I thought necessary in the allotted time frame.   I’d have to skip important areas or exerted myself trying to fit it all in (and then be late for the next patient).

Could there Possibly be Another Way?

When the first Graston Technique™ Seminar came to Chicago in 2001 I attended and learned the merits of focused edge tool application (Cyriax Cross Friction Style) to what was then commonly referred to as “fibrous scar tissue.”   I couldn’t afford a 3K tool set at the time, and spent the weekend grinding out my first two stainless steel instruments with combined profiles and a grip handle.

Referred to as the “The Paisleys” by my patients (predecessor to the Myo-Bar Healing Edge II instruments), I began “plugging-in” instrument assisted therapy during the soft tissue or fascia release segment of my appointments.

In the End, it Really Counts

And this, is the “Big Deal”- why every chiropractor, PT, physiotherapist, osteopath, trainer, and massage therapist should utilize IASTM as a helpful adjunct therapy.

I treated more sections of tissue in less time.   I was able to palpate smaller fascial lesions around joint capsules and tendons (that were inaccessible with my hands alone).   I exerted less energy during a treatment.  

And, finally, I really pleased my patients with quicker recoveries, who never let me forget to “use that paisley thing.”

The Entity Formerly Known as the Trigger Point – The Semantics Problem in Manual Therapy.

The Entity Formerly Known as the Trigger Point – The Semantics Problem in Manual Therapy.

I’m going to get a little philosophical.   I really dislike naysayers- the ones you read or hear at a seminar making statements like, Trigger Points don’t exist or fascia cannot be released. I’ve heard establishment clinicians’ claim that the success of hands-on therapies are due solely to placebo.   As a chiropractor, I’ve heard for years that subluxations are a figment of my profession’s imagination.  Often naysayers are found within our own varied fields of manual therapy, practitioners claiming that one technique is valid while another is bunk- mostly based on the language used to describe findings and perform treatment.

I agree,  there may be some approaches that sound wacky out there,  but for the most part I think any hands-on practitioner that has established a steady practice is making positive changes in the neuro-myo-fascial systems of their patients-   regardless of how they explain it.

If my practice is working,  then why are the naysayers saying?

Most of us are getting our patients better, because whatever language we choose to use to describe our findings we are all actually treating the same thing.   What is the thing or “entity” we are treating?   Let’s start with Travell and the elusive Trigger Point.   We all know what this means and we all know what they feel like- a local with more immobility, hypersensitivity, and/or pain referral than the surrounding tissue. Now, think about this…   Do any of the following terms describe an entity fundamentally different than the definition above?   Barrier, Fascial Restriction, Fibrous Tissue, Scar, Energy Blockage, Density, Subluxation, Tissue Tension, Pressure Point, etc.

But how do YOU explain the range of differences?

From a practical point of view they all are descriptors for dysfunction in the myofascial system.   Here is where semantics comes in.

Each of these words can mean different things in the medical or manual therapy world when used in reference to different diagnostic approaches and treatments- hence the confusion and criticism between health professionals when using them.

Ironically, while the term Trigger Point is attacked quite often, it is the only definition that was created exclusively for a palpated soft tissue phenomenon that cannot be equivocated (and therefore misinterpreted) with other medical terms.

Can the term “Trigger Point” be transformed?

I think the term Trigger Point should be given new life- and made the standard “umbrella” term across manual therapy professions to describe soft tissue phenomenon diagnosed via palpation.   With a general and accepted term, we can then dig deeper and ask…What kinds of dysfunction are involved in creating Trigger Points and associated myofascial syndromes?   What are the physiological underpinnings?   How can we make treatment approaches more successful?   Ultimately it will be less naysaying, better communication, and more collaboration will move manual/soft tissue therapies forward in the health care arena.

Myofascial Tools for Soft Tissue Therapy, Why Design and Quality Matter.

Myofascial Tools for Soft Tissue Therapy,  Why Design and Quality Matter.

I hear it all- and field hundreds of questions about instrument assisted therapies every month (by the way don’t be afraid to contact me if you have one).   A common theme is a practitioner overwhelmed by the available choices for IASTM instruments.   With 25+ popular brands, confusing terminology, and prices ranging from a couple hundred to several thousand dollars it’s hard to know what’s best.

What really IS important in a design profile?

To my knowledge, many available instrument brands are near copies of the profiles that came to market 20 years ago.   Nothing wrong with that… but, there were some design limitations of these early profiles- most notably ergonomic considerations (eh, where do I grab this thing?) and inefficient use of metal “real estate,” (edges that could have been combined into one tool were separated out into 2 or 3).   On this point my advice is not to assume the first forms are best- consider profiles that combine treatment edges and that offer a grip solution.   Otherwise, you will be needlessly switching tools and/or fatiguing your hands with an instrument that is uncomfortable to hold during daily practice.

Okay…but what about quality?  

Will it even last?

Once you have a well-designed profile, you will want to assess the “fit and finish” of the instrument.   This term is used to describe quality.   At the low end of the price continuum it’s going to be harder to find edge consistency, mirror polishing, and a certified stainless steel formulation.   For better patient and practitioner comfort and the better results that come with quality, you deserve a nice IASTM instrument set in your life (even if they cost a few more dollars)- one that will give you all the versatility your need and last for a lifetime of daily practice.

Looking for Used Graston Tools or Graston Instruments for sale?

Looking for Used Graston Tools or Graston Instruments for sale?

They’re hard to find, but we’ll show you that you may be better off with an alternative brand anyway.

Graston tools or Graston Instruments have gained popularity with big therapy clinics and sports teams in the past two decades, because the fundamental principle behind their use- improving access to anatomical structures- really does improve outcomes for myofascial and sports injuries.   The only problem with this picture was the restrictive nature of the technique, either by educational mandates (restricting education to set protocols and proprietary terminology) or prohibitive cost (rolling the tools & training into one very expensive package).

Name Brand Tools

Price: Over $1,500

Simple profile “shapes” represent the popular name brand.

Myo-Bar Tools

w/FREE Shipping
Graston Tools Graston Instruments for Sale - Myo-Bar -
Improved clinical applications and ergonomics in this alternative brand.  View this Set

Looking at the picture above you can see that the simple “shapes” of the tools pictured on the Left represent the popular name brand.   But, have you ever thought an alternative could give you more profile features, be more ergonomic, and cost way less?   The tools pictured on the Right have integral ergonomics in the form of balance points and finger hollows among other improvements.

The truth is, if you’ve got the time to wait for a seminar to roll around, and plenty of cash in your pocket there is nothing wrong going the big name route.   What is wrong (what I hear often from physical therapy, sports medicine, and chiropractic students) is the weird idea that you cannot practice a tool based soft tissue technique, or you won’t have the proper training if you decide to follow a different protocol or use an alternative instrument brand.   What?   All the years of training you did and all the knowledge you have about treating myofascial conditions hasn’t prepared you to apply a simple edge tool to a case of lateral epicondylitis or patellar tendonitis?

Affordably priced at
Graston Tools Graston Instruments for Sale - Myo-Bar --

The M2 Tool is being used for a scanning stroke in the patellar tendon. 

Affordably priced at
Graston Tools Graston Instruments for Sale - Myo-Bar --

Treatment into the lateral triceps can often help relieve tension in the wrist extensors. 

For those who know better, it’s a simple choice.   You can go the used graston tools route (if you can find them) and advertize the big brand name.   Or, you can integrate tool assisted approaches with soft tissue techniques you already know, and look at an alternative tool brand that may give you better features while saving you some cash (quite a bit, actually).   If you’re set on used graston instruments, then read no further- the rest of this article will discuss the benefits of making the other choice.

Many clinicians and students feel “cost” is a real deal breaker, which is why they’ve/you’ve ended up reading this.   But, before we continue to the clinical side of things, let’s get one misconception about cost out of the way…That is, that paying less for stainless steel myofascial tools will give you a compromise in functionality or quality.   This assumption is true about many comparisons in life, but when it comes to this little arena there are several alternative brands that offer equal or better instrument quality.   How do I know?   Because I’ve thoroughly tested and inspected nearly all the big brands and alternative brands out there.

Finish quality is paramount in a clinical setting.   First for patient comfort, the edge must be finished with a high polish.   From a physics point of view the edge polish is vitally important to allow a low coefficient of friction as it glides over the skin.   After edge polish you will want the “flats” and “bevels” free of machining marks, pits, and/or sharp transitions.   Having an all around fine finish on the instruments will make them comfortable to hold and most importantly easy to sanitize.   While it’s obvious to most what a good tool looks and feels like, your best insurance that an alternative brand will pass muster is a healthy money back return policy.

Affordably priced at

So, if you can get top quality workmanship in other brands of myofascial edge tools, what are other benefits?   Here are a few more:

1). New features – Cars, tools, electronics… evolve over time with new technology. Nothing is the same in these categories from twenty years ago.   How is that the big names in instrumented technique haven’t made any major changes/improvements in instruments or the rationale behind clinical protocols?

2). Efficiency– what about finishing all the edges of the tool for treatment- so you have more choices in a single tool- saving you the time and effort of switching/cleaning multiple tools?

3). Ergonomics– No tool will work right if you cannot hold onto it.   Without integral grip, a polished slab of stainless steel can become as slippery as a banana peel.

4). Clinical Freedom– evolve technique on your own terms.   Add your own improvements, and feel free to teach your associates or students without reprisal for “modifying” the immutable proprietary protocol.

Want to learn more about alternative brand IASTM tools instead of looking for used graston tools for sale or used graston Instruments for sale?   Pick your area of interest below and learn about tailored solutions for your specific needs.

Looking for Used Graston Tools or Graston Instruments for sale?

They’re hard to find, but we’ll show you that you may be better off with an alternative brand anyway.

Myo-Bar Tools

Price: $640 w/FREE Shipping

Graston Tools Graston Instruments for Sale - Myo-Bar -
Improved clinical applications and ergonomics in this alternative brand.  View this Set


Name Brand Tools

Price: Over $1,500

Simple profile “shapes” represent the popular name brand.

Read More  

Introduction to IASTM tools (IASTM instruments)

Introduction to IASTM tools (IASTM instruments):

Quick and Easy Recommendations for Treating Upper Extremities with Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization.

In just three to five minutes, you can accurately determine key soft tissue dysfunctions in the upper extremity AND perform treatment with IASTM tools on those dysfunctions.   OK,  you’re thinking what the heck is a “dysfunction.”   In my experience a soft tissue dysfunction is a palpable area of tissue that is thickened, nodular, or painful with or without referral.   Sounds like a Trigger Point, right?   Pretty much, except that I prefer the overhauled mapping and rationale provided by the Stecco family with their laboriously researched theories of Fascial Manipulation (FM).

For revolutionary alternative to trigger point theory, check out the Facial Manipulation text. L. Stecco (2004) .

At any rate, mobilization, therapeutic exercise, ROM facilitation, massage, nutrition, ergonomics are all key areas of treatment for upper extremity conditions, and if you’re reading this article you are a likely a practitioner of one or more of the above.   But, as a clinician who did ALL of the above for for several years with modestly successful outcomes I can tell you that I started getting way better results in the upper extremities when I added IASTM tool protocols to the mix.

So, what are IASTM tools anyway?   And, how are they different from other massage tools?   Traditionally, IASTM tools have an edge that is profiled in different sized convexities or concavities to access the soft tissues in a more exact manner than traditional hand contacts like thumb, thenar, forearm, etc.  No, not “better” than the hand (that is a sacrilege)… just different.   You can see below that the IASTM instruments are making contact in a unique way.

In so many words, this is what makes the contact, “unique.”   First the scale of contact is smaller.   The narrow edge will penetrate deeper and can be more accurately focused on an area of interest.   Second, the smoothness/hardness of the contact (material properties of stainless steel) will allow both treatment without deformation- as when your fingers or palm deforms as its’ contact moves on the surface anatomy-  and, palpation-  giving you resonance “feedback” as to the problematic areas of fascial restriction or densification.   A quick note on palpation “feedback.”   I have found that the thumb/finger is better for determining soft tissue dysfunction in muscle bellies, and the IASTM tools / IASTM instruments excel in the smaller areas of anatomy like joint capsules, ligaments, and tendons.

Medical Grade 304 Stainless – “Whale” Gua Sha Tool

So you may be thinking, how exactly will this help with upper extremity conditions- what is the process involved and how long does it take?   Answer to second question first- treatment is about 3 minutes per area/density/point.   You may find only one to work on or a few.   As to exact recommendations for treating upper extremity conditions with instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization, here are some conditions to think about:

Lateral Epicondylitis- scan down into the extensor tendons for soft tissue restriction or density with a “Small” scale IASTM Tool like the Healing Edge S II.   Check the capsule of the radial head with a “hook” contact.   Use a long concavity to perform deep fascial release strokes in the triceps.   Get rid of the compression brace and recommend the Theraband FlexBar for home exercise.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome- your patient complains of “tingling” into the fingers.   Nearly never this is caused by exclusively by thickening of the transverse ligament of the wrist.   Think about it, overuse would affect all wrist flexor tendons, and Median N. sheath all the way to the lateral foramen.   Use nerve channeling advanced strokes along the Median N. path and perform modified Cyriax cross friction strokes in the wrist/finger flexors.   Give your patient stretches for pectoralis minor and scalenes, and for gosh sakes make sure they have a wedge (or adjustable forward pan tilt) for their office chair.

Rotator Cuff Impingement- use the Trigger Point Tool in the supraspinatus fossa + infraspinatus + subscapularis and perform warming pre treatment stroke.   Use a prow of a small IASTM tool with Hyaluronic Acid Release stroke in the rotator cuff tendon.   Deep fascial release and PIR stretching of pectoralis major/minor.   Send your patient home with explicit instructions for performing Brugger’s Posture Restoration exercise.

Trigger Finger- there never was a better condition to treat with IASTM instruments.      The thumb is bulky and awkward when trying to work alongside a tendon that is a 4-5mm in width.   With the Detail Tool “Hook” you can get alongside and even “lift” the tendon away from its fascial restrictions.

Putting the right combination of treatments together on the right dysfunctional tissues is the key to great success with upper extremity conditions. IASTM instruments or IASTM tools are one key component of this “right” combination.   For A LOT more info on conditions, theory, and treatment check out our IASTM Primer Download in the right sidebar.

IASTM tools or IASTM instruments– profiled edge tools used to make contact with human anatomy with more accuracy/intensity than traditional practitioner hand contacts.   Click here to learn more about tool sets.

Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization– The addition of a polished tool edge or point acting as a fulcrum or force multiplier during contact for soft tissue techniques.   Click here to learn about IASTM technique.

Fascial Manipulation– Technique developed by Luigi Stecco that postulates a new Hyaluronic Acid Theory of myofascial dysfunction.   This theory posits that HA “desifies” due to overuse/injury and is the main culprit behind somatic pain syndromes.   Click here to download key Fascial Manipulation articles.

Trigger Point Tool Trigger Point Therapy

The Trigger Point Tool & Trigger Point Therapy has Evolved Considerably.

Get Updated on New Approaches & Find out how Stainless Steel Myofascial Tools can Improve Soft Tissue Pain Syndromes.

This Myo-Bar* Trigger Point Tool is a “High-end” alternative to plastic massage tools.   Is it worth $60 more than the myriad of $15 massage tools available elsewhere?   If you perform routine self care or are in a soft tissue healing profession, the answer is absolutely- Yes!   Stainless Steel has a unique physical property in that its “stiffness”and “smoothness” allow for improved palpation.   You can treat fibrous tissue, trigger points, & fascial densification with better ease and accuracy, because you can feel the “resonance” of the polished stainless steel treatment surface riding along the skin- giving valuable information about the tissue topography and possible myofascial dysfunctions.

Stainless Steel Trigger Point Tool

The resonance phenomenon alone is worth the investment.   But there is one more key benefit when treating.   The coefficient of friction of polished stainless steel is totally different than plastic massage tools.   It has just the right amount of “glide” to be used on the skin WITHOUT oil/emollient.   And, it has enough “grab” to allow controlled therapeutic strokes (for physical therapists, osteopaths, or chiropractors this same surface property allows equally effective treatment of trigger points through the cloths).   Check out this Short (2 minute) demo to see what I’m talking about.

The Trigger Point Tool is one of several stainless steel instruments we manufacture for the manual therapy profession.   Tap or Click below to get a $15 discount code for a single TrP tool purchase.   If you want to see more on the Trigger Point tool you can go to the purchase page.   Or, if your interest is piqued in other possibilities/techniques a good place to start learning on our main website is the Gua Sha Fusion page.   This page highlights tool sets that include the Trigger Point Tool and/or Gua Sha* tool or Myofascial Bar.

(Gua Sha is an Asian Folk massage technique that makes use of edge tools for manual therapy.   Often these classic techniques are mixed with scientific Western approaches in the form of IASTM or instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization)

Trigger Point Tool - Trigger Point Therapy - Myo-Bar IASTM
Trigger Point Tool - Trigger Point Therapy - Myo-Bar IASTM

*Myo-Bar LLC is an American company owned by a clinician with 15 years experience designing myofascial tools… and treating his patients with them.   Our prices are “so good” because we built our own small scale stainless steel fabrication shop where we’re in complete control of quality, and can also sell direct without sales rep or catalog mark-ups.   Our Trigger Point Tools are made from medical grade stainless steel and come with a 45 day money-back guarantee and a 7 year warranty.   Yes, we ship Globally- in fact we offer free international shipping on many sets.

Stainless Steel Gua Sha Tool Sets Guasha Tools

“High-End” Stainless Steel Gua Sha Tool Sets / Guasha Tools are an Essential Component in both TCM & Western Manual Therapy Practice

There are still adherents of traditional folk technique that recommend coin edges, jade, horn, and the lid of your Vicks Vapo-Rub jar as Gua Sha tool sets.   For home care this is perfectly acceptable. However when performing as a modern health care practitioner, polished stainless steel edges are worth the investment for better “feel” of the tissues, durability, and obviously sanitization.

Medical Grade 304 Stainless – “Whale” Gua Sha Tool

The stainless steel gua sha tool above was inspired by a timeless design seen perennially in ancient tool artifacts.   Modern improvements in the design include finger hollows/scallops for ergonomic handling and ultra polished edges.   It has the right sized edge radius for following Folk Medicine protocols, but can also be used for Western soft tissue approaches.

No matter what your particular philosophy, your patients will benefit from treatment of fibrous tissue, trigger points, & fascial densification.   With ease and accuracy-  you can actually “feel resonance” as the edges ride along the skin and give valuable information about the tissue topography and possible myofascial dysfunction in the layers below.   From an energy medicine point of view you can “feel” chi blockage/stagnation in the meridians.

Eastern & Western Rationales for Gua Sha Tool use are becoming integrated. Listen to what these authors say about dry needling & acupuncture points.

With the research of Helen Langavin, and Luigi Stecco the sharp lines between Eastern energy medicine and Western science are being blurred.   Fascia may be the missing structure involved in the success of diagnosis and treatment with meridians.   Dr. Langavin has created landmark studies showing that dry needling signals healing changes to the both the visceral and myofascial systems via microtubule force transmission in the fascia.

Dr. Stecco takes a different approach- his theories involve explaining acupuncture points as intersections of fascial layers central to movement in one or more planes of motion.   Painful or blocked “energy” in the points may be thickening of hyaluronic acid (HA) within the ground substance.   Reducing the viscosity of HA in the system can be achieved with acupuncture, but (maybe even more so) with focused manual therapy like guasha or trigger point therapy.

If you are a practitioner apt to integrate many approaches like use of Gua Sha Tools or trigger point work check out these “Fusion” stainless steel Gua Sha Tool Sets.

Price w/FREE Shipping:

Trigger Point Therapy / Acupressure Point Stimulation & Gua Sha is a natural pairing.     The “Apprentice” set is a nice upgrade for clinical practice over less durable or sanitary tool materials.

For those who want further integration with IASTM (instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization) this Master GS Fusion Set gives you an incredible range or profiles and edges.   Included here is a myofascial bar for effortless deep work in low back, thigh, & leg.   The Healing Edge IASTM tool is perfect for treating small ligament/tendon issues and has a “hook” that can be used as a point stimulator.

Price w/FREE Shipping:

If your interest has been piqued in upgrading to a stainless steel gua sha tool set / guasha tool set there is a TON more info/video on instruments, choosing tools, and myofascial IASTM technique to find on the Myo-Bar website.   Although leaning more toward the Western approach with tools (instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization), the reality is techniques are very similar to Eastern approaches- its just the language that is different. Here are some jumping off points for you:

· Research Articles- We have PDF copies available of Dr. Langavin's and Dr. Steccos key articles.   A must read for all hands-on practitioners.

· IASTM Primer- get to know the state of the art in application of edge tools from the Western point of view.

· Current Promotions- Click on "View Details" of the set you're interested in and go to the Promotions tab to find out if we have any specials going on now for the GS Fusion or other myofascial tool sets. 

Feature Articles

IASTM Feature Articles

Below you will find feature research articles written by a diverse group of authors that are key in the manual therapy world.   It is highly recommended that you download these articles and read them at your convenience.

Along the side bar you will find blog articles written by Matthew Hajzl, DC about various clinical topics and issues related to instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization.

Research Articles

Rationale for IASTM overlaps with the underpinnings of manual therapy in general.   IASTM is manual therapy.   Circulation/blood chemistry, fascia, trigger points, fibrous adhesions, scar tissue, joint mobility, proprioception, acupuncture meridians, and the extracellular matrix are all areas of focus in research related to manual therapy.

With specific regard to IASTM the newest most comprehensive research to support clinical effectiveness, and help clinicians direct treatment intervention come from the following:

  1. Structural Integrationists– this group has made fascia a focus for forty years based on the initial work of Ida Rolf (who in turn was influenced by osteopath Andrew Still).   Excellent research and teaching materials have be put forth recently by Thomas Findley, Robert Schliep,   Tom Myers, and many others.
  2. Trigger Point Researchers– these elusive entities have played a pivotal role in the myofascial discussion for decades, yet it seems that there are often attempts at “disproving” their existence. Look to the quality work offered by Jay Shah, John McPartland, Robert Gerwin, Jan Dommerholt and others to guide the discussion of treating trigger points in manual therapy.
  3. The Fascial Manipulation® Association– Luigi Stecco, his son Antonio, his daughter Carla, and other members of the worldwide Fascial Manipulation Association have put together tremendous original research related to fascial anatomy, diagnostic evaluation, and treatment intervention. Their hyaluronic acid hypothesis for fascial dysfunction is a welcome explanation for the “restrictions” that are often encountered when palpating soft tissues.
  4. Helene Langevin a much updated view of connective tissue and fibroblastic activity (compared to earlier scar tissue and remodeling theories of Cyriax). New concepts are offered like mechanical signaling, microtubule force transmission, fibroblast response to fascial stretch, and the manual therapy component of acupuncture and dry needling.

From the above, the theory that best supports IASTM will be related to the method in which you use your tool(s). IASTM is not a stand alone treatment. It potentiates other techniques by increasing the range and depth of manual contacts.

At the end of the day, it’s certainly important to understand the scientific rationale for soft tissue treatment. However, it will be your improved clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction that will ultimately justify this treatment approach.

For the academics, students, and myofascial aficionados who want to be up to date with current science of IASTM and soft tissue therapy, in general, these are must read articles. All available in PDF’s in a zip file by clicking below.