Science behind IASTM
What is the science behind IASTM?
The science behind IASTM is based on the principles of soft tissue mobilization, which involve the use of mechanical force to improve the function and healing of soft tissue structures such as muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
Studies have shown that IASTM can improve pain, range of motion, and function in patients with conditions such as chronic plantar fasciitis, lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow), rotator cuff tendinitis, and musculoskeletal injuries. In addition, IASTM has been shown to have positive effects on the healing of soft tissue injuries and the reduction of pain and inflammation.
How does IASTM work?
IASTM is believed to work by creating micro-trauma to the tissue, which initiates an inflammatory response. This response activates the body’s natural healing mechanisms, which can result in the production of new tissue and an improvement in the overall function of the affected area.
The controlled application of pressure with the instruments helps to increase blood flow, reduce inflammation, and break down scar tissue and adhesions that can limit movement and cause pain. The instruments provide a more precise and effective form of mobilization compared to manual techniques, allowing the therapist to target specific areas and apply the right amount of force.
When a stimulus is applied to injured soft tissue using an instrument, the activity and the number of fibroblasts increase, along with fibronectin, through localized inflammation, which facilitates the synthesis and realignment of collagen. Fibroblasts have an active role in tissue remodeling.
IASTM is a popular intervention for sports medicine professionals and has prompted an emerging body of research on the efficacy of IASTM. The scientific literature supports the use of IASTM for the following conditions:
- Calf pain
- Kneecap tendinopathy
- Dupuytren’s contracture
- Plantar fasciitis/heel pain
- Post operative ACL repair
- Benign joint hypermobility syndrome
- Shoulder impingement syndrome
- Ankle instability
- Rehabilitation after total joint replacement
- Shoulder range of motion
- Acute and chronic tendon injuries characterized by pain, swelling and impaired performance such as Achilles tendonitis.
- Arthrofibrosis – a joint disorder characterized by excessive collagen production and adhesions that result in restricted joint movement and pain such as frozen shoulder, adhesive capsulitis, joint contractures, stiff knee and stiff elbow.
- Prevention of Achilles tendinopathy
- Recovery from soft tissue sports injuries including hamstring injury
- Tennis elbow
- Shortening rehabilitation and return to sports
- Pain reduction including chronic lumbar pain
- Trigger thumb
- Improved hip and knee range of motion
IASTM is effective in the treatment and rehabilitation of athletes and ordinary people with sports injuries. It can speed healing after injury and successful return to sports and daily life. The greatest goal is to remove scar tissue and promote a return to normal function after soft tissue regeneration.
At CAO Sports Performance and Physical Therapy in Waldorf, Leonardtown and California Maryland, the physical therapy teams offer IASTM and other innovative and advanced techniques and therapies to help you live pain free and return to the life you love. Contact them to schedule a consultation and learn how they can help you.
- Ospelt, C. A common activator of tissue-remodeling fibroblasts across tissues. Nat Immunol 23, 1295–1296 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41590-022-01294-z
- Kim J, Sung DJ, Lee J. Therapeutic effectiveness of instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization for soft tissue injury: mechanisms and practical application. J Exerc Rehabil. 2017 Feb 28;13(1):12-22. doi: 10.12965/jer.1732824.412. PMID: 28349028; PMCID: PMC5331993.
- Weber P, Klingler W, Schleip R, Weber N, Joisten C. The Influence of a Single Instrument-Assisted Manual Therapy (IAMT) for the Lower Back on the Structural and Functional Properties of the Dorsal Myofascial Chain in Female Soccer Players: A Randomised, Placebo-Controlled Trial. J Clin Med. 2022 Nov 30;11(23):7110. doi: 10.3390/jcm11237110. PMID: 36498690; PMCID: PMC9736370.
- Cheatham SW, Baker R, Kreiswirth E. INSTRUMENT ASSISTED SOFT-TISSUE MOBILIZATION: A COMMENTARY ON CLINICAL PRACTICE GUIDELINES FOR REHABILITATION PROFESSIONALS. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2019 Jul;14(4):670-682. PMID: 31440416; PMCID: PMC6670063.