Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilisation


Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilisation or  IASTM is a non-invasive manual therapy technique used by therapists to release soft tissues including muscles, tendons and scar tissue. It’s roots date back to the 2nd or 3rd century and originate from Gua Sha, a form of traditional chinese medicine (TCM). Gua Sha involves scraping of the skin to make light bruising and is based on concepts of acu-points and meridians.

Today we use IASTM to treat soft tissue dysfunction such as:

  • Plantar fasciits
  • Achilles tendonopathy
  • Tennis Elbow (lateral epicondylitis)
  • Mechanical low back pain
  • De Quervains tenosynovitis
  • Neck pain
  • Scar tissue

IASTM is performed with ergonomically designed instruments that detect and treat fascial restrictions, encourage rapid localization and effectively treat areas exhibiting soft tissue fibrosis (areas of tightness), chronic inflammation, or degeneration.

As with any manual therapy the IASTM is used in conjunction with joint mobilisation, exercise for strength and/or flexibility and retraining muscle imbalance throughout the whole kinet chain.

How does it work?

Instruments effectively break down fascial restrictions and scar tissue. It is based on the concept of deep friction massage (Cyriax and Russell) which aims to increase blood flow to an area and reduce the adhesions in the soft tissues. These adhesions may have formed from repeated strain, immobilisation after surgery or by other means. Put simply we cause microtrauma to an area which encourages the body to heal itself by starting the inflammatory process followed by tissue repair and regeneration.

Of course there are physiological and scientific benefits with this technique which involve the stimulation of the mechanoreceptors in the soft tissues – deep slow stretching of the golgi organs reduces their firing rate which results in reduced tone.

Indications for use

There are numerous reasons why we would use IASTM to treat an injury, these are just a few:

  • Limited motion
  • Pain during motion
  • Motor control issues
  • Muscle recruitment issues
  • Overactive muscles resulting in imbalance

What to find out more? Contact us on 01189 462299 to book an appointment with Kirsty or Rachel who are trained in the method of IASTM.