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Sports Medicine and IASTM: A Perfect Match

You've got an entire team to treat on the field or in your office. In a clinic/ sports medicine setting, your colleagues depend on you to keep the athletes performing.   More than any other manual therapy related profession, trainers & other sports medicine professionals are under tremendous pressure to get fast results... but without jumping the gun and setting up an athlete for further injury.   If you haven't already figured this out- the absolute best approach for quick recovery and injury prevention involves focused soft tissue therapies.

But, let's be honest.   You do not have time or physical stamina to perform deep tissue therapy all day long. How could you ease up the stress on your body and administer an effective soft tissue treatment in 5-10 minutes? ​   The answer is instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM).   Now you can add a soft tissue therapy that your athletes will love and not sacrifice time spent performing other important training interventions.

IASTM involves profiled edge tools that act as a force multiplier (the tool edge concentrating mechanical treatment force more specifically) and helped determine dysfunctional tissue along long kinetic chains via a property of annealed stainless steel called diagnostic resonance.   Similar to the way a needle rides in a record groove, the edge of an IASTM tool rides along tissue topography giving the practitioner "feedback."   Here are other key benefits:

​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.


IASTM for Quick Recovery & Injury Prevention

The instant the body undergoes an overwhelming force impact or strain it will take protective measures to prevent further injury.   What happens immediately after the event will set the stage for the recovery period.   Old school thought, was rest, ice, and immobilization.   And, if a severe trauma is at hand- this is still what you must do.   But, what about strains, sprains, and overexertion/overuse type injuries?   What happens when your patient stops moving the injured segment?

Without movement, stasis of fluids occurs along with the vicious cycle of inflammation.   This scenario requires at least a 4 day recovery, and sometimes up to a couple of weeks.   ​ Ice may reduce inflammation, but it also numbs the proprioceptors and other receptors necessary for the brain to begin functional recovery.   So, let's say an injury is evaluated and ligament damage/fracture is ruled out.   Can we use another treatment protocol to fix the problem area and bypass the inflammation cycle?

According to tensegrity models of anatomy (Myers, 2014), most soft tissue injuries are NOT "tears" or "pulls."    Rather they are failures in the glide of fascial encasements around muscle fascicles, ligament beds, and nerve channels.   More than that, these restrictions in glide between layers of tissue are nearly always one or more segments away from the pain site.   By analyzing the position of injury (and actions that provoke pain) along with the kinetic chain involved with that movement you can find and release areas of restriction immediately (or as soon as possible) after injury.   If you can restore movement along the kinetic chain, you will bring all the neurologic receptors back into harmony so they can, in return, appropriately plan and execute normal & pain free movement patterns.

​Can you imagine assessing an athlete limping off the field, finding the appropriate targets, treating in 5-10 minutes, and sending them back into the game with full function?


​Easy IASTM Integration for Sports Medicine

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.   The instruments will help you effectively scan along the kinetic chain for restrictions, then treat/resolve right then-and-there.

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 Sports Medicine IASTM page to easily access information later... And, would you think about sharing this page with your colleagues?