Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization
The way in which physical therapist are performing soft tissue mobilization or massage has changed recently. A growing number of physical therapists are moving towards IASTM, or instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization. This entails using some sort of hard edged instrument made of metal, plastic or ceramic in order to apply a force to soft tissue in an attempt to increase the body’s healing response. The tools provide advantages for both patient and therapist. They provide palpable feedback as they cross the affected fibers of the patient’s soft tissue, thus allowing the therapist to be efficient in their treatment. The other advantage is that they allow for an increased, focused amount of force to the affected area without significant discomfort to the patient or increased stress to the therapist’s hands.
The most popular theory on how the instrumentation works is that the contact between the tool and the underlying tissue causes micro-trauma that results in an increase in the number of high quality fibroblasts. Fibroblasts are cells that are produced by the body during the healing process of tissue. The “scrapping” of the tool over the affected tissue also helps convert collagen scar tissue to functional tissue with proper alignment of the tissue fibers. This will allow for normal elasticity of the tissue and as a result decreased pain with movement and functional activity.
The doctors of physical therapy at Parabolic frequently use IASTM on conditions that range from scar tissue build up after surgery, to tight muscles resulting from overuse injuries. If you have any questions regarding how IASTM is performed, and if it could help your particular condition, feel free to contact one of our doctors of physical therapy at either our Montclair or Little Falls offices.