Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization

What is Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization?

Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM) is a skilled manual therapy technique in which a clinician uses a specifically designed tool, usually made of stainless steel, to manipulate/stimulate the skin, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and fascia of the area being treated. When using a tool, it allows for deeper penetration into these tissues compared to traditional manual soft tissue mobilization where the clinician uses their hands only. Also, most IASTM tools have different curved edges and contours which are used for specific purposes.

How Does it work?

When IASTM is used the pressure applied actually causes direct microtauma to the myofascial tissue that is restricted, irritated, damaged, or limited by adhesions. This microtrauma produces a local inflammation response to the targeted area and breaks down the adhesions which in turn promotes blood flow, remodeling, and healing of the tissue. In order to have the best results it is important to note that IASTM typically is used in conjunction with other targeted treatments, including movement, strengthening, and stretching of the tissue. 

What are the benefits?

  • Promotes Healing
  • Improved Range of Motion
  • Improved Strength
  • Pain Reduction

What to expect and is it safe?

With any type of skilled manual treatments there are some relative precautions and contraindications. Therefore, make sure to talk to your physical therapist or physician to see if IASTM would be beneficial for you. Once it has been determined you would be a good fit for IASTM you may be wondering how it feels? Typically, the pressure of the tool can be slightly uncomfortable depending on the amount of pressure applied by the clinician and the sensitivity of the tissues. However, as mentioned above it typically reduces the person’s pain once treatment is finished. 


-Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization. (2021, January 27). Physiopedia.