What Is a Soft-Tissue Injury and or Dysfunction?
A soft-tissue injury and or dysfunction involves damage to the muscles, ligaments, tendons and/or fascia at some location in the body. Some of the most common soft-tissue injuries include sprains and strains and are the result of either a trauma, such as falling or twisting an ankle, or repetitive use, such as a person who runs 5 or 6 times a week and develops pain in their knee. Soft-tissue injury tends to either be misuse (not being prepared for the demands of whatever activity you injured yourself doing) or over-use (muscle exertion without adequate recovery). Soft tissue injuries can produce pain, bruising, swelling and loss of function. Repeated strain can produce adhesions within the soft tissue leading to immobilization or other mechanism breakdowns. There are numerous tools that will efficiently enable us to locate and treat anyone with soft tissue injury or dysfunction. These tools and the treatment make up the IASTM, or Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization technique.
What is Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM)
Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization or IASTM is a treatment that enables us to efficiently locate and treat anyone with acute or chronic soft tissue injury or dysfunction. The main objective of IASTM is to promote improved movement between adhesions that are producing multi-layered soft tissue restriction and adversely affecting the functioning of the tendons, muscles, ligaments and fascia. The tools are also believed to provide the practitioner a mechanical advantage allowing for increased force transmission compared to the use of hands. IASTM employs ergonomically designed instruments (Graston Technique) that help detect and treat fascial restrictions and other areas exhibiting soft tissue fibrosis, degeneration, or chronic inflammation. Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM) tools are made of different materials and shapes, but a popular one is the Graston Technique. It’s effective in alleviating symptoms associated with limited or painful motion and motor control issues such as coordination or muscle activation. Conditions that commonly are treated with IASTM include achilles tendinosis, IT band syndrome, plantar fasciitis and rotator cuff injuries. Targeted IASTM can be effective in relieving stiffness, reducing muscle tone, alleviating pain, unceasing healing rates and improving range of motion.
The benefits of IASTM and how it works
Those who incur a soft-tissue injury usually do not get treatment right away. It’s commonplace for weeks if not months to go by before the injured person seeks medical care. Unfortunately at this point the self healing process has completed. Generally fibrosis and scar tissue will have formed often producing pain and restricted motion. What s postulated to be happening is the scar tissue causes new cells to lay down in a disorganized manner – effectively preventing muscles from lengthening properly. Effective treatment with IASTM as a part of the model requires restarting the healing process so soft-tissue can be remodeled in the affected area. IASTM treatment is employed to introduce a controlled “microtrauma” to the soft tissue area to stimulate a local inflammatory response. This initiates the reabsorption of excessive scar tissue, and the remodeling of the soft tissue structure that was affected can now begin under the watchful eye and care of the therapist with the cells now becoming organized improving movement.
IASTM treatment can result in:
- Faster pain relief
- Improved mobility
- Quicker rehabilitation and recovery
A good candidate for IASTM
Anyone experiencing soft-tissue based pain or injuries can benefit from IASTM. Conditions treated include:
- Forms of tendinitis or tendinopathy, including Achilles tendinitis, patellar tendinopathy, golfers and tennis elbow
- Excessive scar tissue build up
- Post operative care
- Muscle strains
- Ligament sprains
- Running injuries, such as plantar fasciitis and iliotibial band syndrome (IT band syndrome)