Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization
Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM) is a method used to release fascia, restricted tissue, and scar tissue. The tools used in IASTM commonly result in limiting rehabilitation by increasing myofascial restrictions and failing to relieve pain.
Common methods of IASTM include:
Gua Sha is the practice of scraping the skin with tools to reduce tension and pain. The chinese technique of Gua Sha is commonly used to rebalance a person’s chi- the energy that circulates through the body.
Augmented Soft Tissue Mobilization (ASTYM) works to activate the physiological response that results in the restoration of soft tissue by producing the changes at the cellular level. By creating microtraumas, ASTYM works to start a healing process that will eliminate excessive scar tissue.
Graston technique is desgined to break down scar tisue and minimize restriction using specially designed stainless steel tools against the skin to increase muscle mobilization. Like other IASTM techniques, Graston works to produce microtraumas in hopes of creating inflammation to kickstart the healing process.
ASTR, Advanced Soft Tissue Release, is a biopsychosocial method that uses special tools, maneuvers and theories to address the source of pain in a holisitc manner. By working on a variety of aspects including scar tissue, fascia restriction, trigger points, muscle spasms, mindset and behavioral habits, ASTR has resulted in high success rates for giving its patients long term pain relief.
ASTR vs. IASTM
Systematic reviews completed during control trials by Cheatham, et. al have studied IASTM and its subsequent treatments of Gua Sha, ASTYM, and Graston. These studies reported that there is litttle evidence showing beneficial results for its recipients. Most results have shown short-term improvement for range of motion, but fails to sufficently treat musculoskeletal pathology using current methods and tools.
In comparison, a study completed by Jacobs, et. al investigated the length of time and effectiveness of ASTR in treating neck injuries. At the time of follow up appointments, 87% of patients reported being pain free. After three treatments, patient’s visual analog scale was reduced and remained low through the follow-up treatments.
While research has shown that IASTM can result in temporary pain relief, ASTR continues to effectively treat the source of the injury and results in both long- and short- term pain relief.