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Physical Therapy & IASTM

​I'll be honest.   I don't think a supervised exercise circuit or those "xeroxed for 10 years" rehab patient hand-outs do much good without individualized hands-on care.   My mother-in-law, a hospital nursing staff supervisor, was just referred to physical therapy for rotator cuff tendonits/impingement in her top Chicago suburbs hospital.   And, you guessed it- generic upper extremity exercise circuit with a 30 year old, barely readable, home strengthening hand-out.   On a visit over the holidays, she called me over- "Matt, can you work on my shoulder?"   Sure.   Ten minutes later... "why don't they do that in my physical therapy?"

If you are a PTA, PT, OT, or DPT in the US or a physiotherapist in Canada or Europe you have come to this site because you recognize the importance of soft tissue therapies for recovery of myofascial pain syndromes.   Travell's Trigger Point therapy, and Cyriax's cross friction massage are learned by all physio's, but very few practice these approaches, because they are time consuming and physically demanding to perform.   Is there new approach to soft tissue that can be performed in a reasonable time frame and without wreaking your hands?

Yes.   Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM) is the perfect modality for a short soft tissue segment in the treatment session.   Profiled edge contacts concentrate mechanical forces with high specificity in the anatomical target, and the nature of stroking with the tool itself is diagnostic- often amplifying small myofascial lesions under the surface of the skin.

The last piece of the puzzle for integrating effective soft tissue treatment is a comprehensive soft tissue diagnosis protocol to determine primary lesions in fascia and soft tissue sometimes several segments away from the pain site.   This can be found with Stecco Fascial Manipulation- a school of thought that teaches the best soft tissue evaluation on the planet, and has documented an entirely new fascial phenomenon (hyaluronic acid theory) as the basis of myofascial pain.   With accurate evaluation and quick, effective, treatment with quality stainless steel IASTM instruments you can make the most of soft tissue treatment in your physical therapy practice.   Here are the top four benefits of using IASTM tools.

​Tools act as a force multiplier, giving more specific soft tissue treatments.   The unique profiles of the instruments make contacts that are in many cases more accurate than thumb/finger contacts.

Using IASTM tools eases strain on the practitioner.   This becomes especially important when your practice becomes busy and you cannot possibly perform intense soft tissue therapies all day long.

​By finding soft tissue lesions quickly and treating the dysfunctional area exclusively vs. working "around and around" it, you will save time in the treatment session.

Finally, by directly accessing the patients pain sites in the soft tissue, you will communicate (non verbally) with the patient that you are competent and effective as a clinician.


Top Physiotherapy Conditions Treated with IASTM

Here are some conditions that you will see better results after integrating IASTM as an adjunct soft tissue therapy.   It all starts with accurate palpation of soft tissue & fascial restrictions at, above, and below pain sites along the kinetic chain.   After your 3-5 minutes of IASTM strokes, your movement therapy, therapeutic exercise, or mobilization will be more effective.   With quicker recoveries, pretty soon your clinic will be the top choice of referring physicians and orthopedic surgeons for:

​Can you imagine increasing your caseload and patient satisfaction with more of these extremity cases in addition to your bread and butter acupuncture/Asian medicine patients?

​Lateral & Medial Epicondylitis

Rotator Cuff Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel/Arm Tingling

Biceps Tendonitis

Patellar Tendonitis

Illiotibial Band Sydrome

Achillies Tendoniits

Plantar Fasciitis

DeQuervains

Post Surgical Scar Mobilization

Costovertebral Syndrome

Will you be the go-to therapist in your clinic or hospital for these normally hard to treat myofascial pain conditions?


​Easy Technique Integration for Physical Therapists

​IASTM is not a complicated technique.   If you have experience with any soft tissue approach, you can perform your treatment just like you did with your hands, now with the addition of an instrument.   In terms of logistics and use during a treatment session, the minimum time for effective use of this adjunct therapy is about 5 minutes.   Here you can pick two to three treatment sites, perform your choice of IASTM stroke, and follow up with integrated movement.   We have videos you can watch on our Technique Page of four common IASTM strokes.   Also, available at the bottom of the Technique Page is the comprehensive Technique Primer PDF with background, theory, descriptions of 8 therapeutic strokes, and references.   Before continuing, don't forget to bookmark this Physical Therapy IASTM page to easily access information later... And, would you think about sharing this page with your physio colleagues?

We have videos you can watch on our Technique Page of four common IASTM strokes.   Also, available at the bottom of the Technique Page is the comprehensive Technique Primer PDF with background, theory, descriptions of 8 therapeutic strokes, and references.   Before continuing, don't forget to bookmark this Asian Medicine IASTM page to easily access information later... And, would you think about sharing this page with your chiropractic colleagues?