Posts

4 Myths of IASTM

Instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) is really a great manual therapy skill to have in your tool box.  However, there are many myths and misconceptions regarding IASTM that I really believe are holding people back from getting started and seeing the benefits of IASTM in their practice.

In this video, Erson Religioso and I discuss some of the myths of IASTM that led us to develop our online educational program at IASTMtechnique.com to teach people how and why we use IASTM:

4 Myths of IASTM

 

To summarize some of the myths of IASTM discussed in the video:

  • IASTM MythsIASTM does not have to be expensive to learn or perform.  You do not need to spend tons of money on certification courses and crazy expensive tools.  Erson and I have a quick and easy online educational program at IASTMtechnique.com that will get you started right away.  We even talk about how you can get useable tools for as little as $5!
  • IASTM does not have to be complicated to learn.  If you are already performing manual therapy or massage, you know everything you need to know to start using IASTM.
  • IASTM should not make everyone black and blue!  Let me actually rephrase that for emphasis, IASTM is not about being so aggressive that you leave large purple marks and essentially produce superficial capillary hemorrhage.  Some redness and petechia is OK, but the over aggressive black and blue is not ideal.
  • IASTM tools do not provide as much feedback as my hands.  IASTM is a way to compliment your hands, it is not a replacement!  In fact, it gives you a different feel that really helps your palpation skills.

 

 

Learn How to Start Performing IASTM Today!

Erson Religioso and I’s online educational program will teach you everything you need to know to start using IASTM today!  IASTM does not have to be complicated to learn or expensive to start using.  Learn everything about IASTM including the history, efficacy, tool options, different stroke patterns, basic techniques, advanced techniques, and how to integrate IASTM into your current manual therapy skills and treatment programs!

IASTM Technique 2.0 has now be released with updated research, new content, and now includes how to perform cupping and use mobility bands!  Get started today!

large-learn-more

Photo from Wikipedia

How and Why You Need to Learn IASTM

Learn IASTMErson Religioso and I have a nice video for you discussing why and how we both started using instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM).  Like many people, I held out initially as I wanted to hear and see more.  However, the more I learned the more interested I became.

IASTM has now become a game changer for me and something I deeply integrate into my manual therapy techniques, and think you should too.  It doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive, or time consuming to start using IASTM.

In this video, Erson and I describe how and why they both started using IASTM, how we integrate IASTM with other manual techniques and exercise, the major benefits of IASTM, and then some brief technique demonstrations.

 

How and Why You Need to Learn IASTM

 

Learn How to Start Performing IASTM Today!

Erson Religioso and I’s online educational program will teach you everything you need to know to start using IASTM today!  IASTM does not have to be complicated to learn or expensive to start using.  Learn everything about IASTM including the history, efficacy, tool options, different stroke patterns, basic techniques, advanced techniques, and how to integrate IASTM into your current manual therapy skills and treatment programs!

IASTM Technique 2.0 has now be released with updated research, new content, and now includes how to perform cupping and use mobility bands!  Get started today!

large-learn-more

IASTM Technique 2.0 Now Available! Learn Advanced Techniques, Cupping, and Bands

Erson Religioso and I are super excited to announce the release of our brand new IASTM Technique 2.0 program at IASTMtechnique.com.  

IASTM Technique 2.0 is an add-on to our VERY popular program teaching you how you can quickly, easily, and affordably start using instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization in your manual therapy practice.

Since Erson and I released this program a few years ago, we have received amazing feedback. You don’t need to spend thousands on IASTM tools and loose a weekend attending a course.  Our program teaches you all you need in a simple online format.

This is no doubt your best opportunity to learn how to perform instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization AND now cupping too!

 

Advanced IASTM Techniques, Cupping, and More

iastm technique 2 cupping

 

And now with the additional content in IASTM Technique 2.0, not only will you be able to perform instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization, we also show you some of our advanced techniques to enhance movement patterns, how to use functional cupping, and how to use mobility bands!

  • Advanced IASTM Techniques – Learn our latest techniques designed to use IASTM to enhance movement patterns
  • Functional Cupping – Learn how we use cupping and combine IASTM and cupping together.  This has been a game changer for us!
  • Mobility Bands – Learn how to use mobility bands during manual therapy and self-mobility drills
  • Discounts on Edge Tools and Cupping kits – Anyone that purchases access to IASTM Technique 2.0 also gets a great discount on Edge IASTM tools, cupping kits, and mobility bands!

iastm tool cupping kit

 


Save $20 this week only!

IASTM Technique 2.0 is on sale for $20 off now through Sunday 8/28/16 (midnight EST).  Click the button below to learn more and start learning IASTM and cupping today!  

For people that have already purchased the original IASTM Technique 1.0, you can upgrade to 2.0 for a super low price. Click here to go to the IASTM Technique course page and you’ll find a link to upgrade to 2.0!
large-learn-more

My Recommendations on Choosing the Best IASTM Tool

best IASTM toolsOne of the major points that I wanted to get across in my new online program teaching you instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization is that the tools do not need to be expensive to start using IASTM.

There are a wide variety of different tools that you can buy to perform IASTM, ranging from $5 to several thousands of dollars!

Luckily for you, it doesn’t have to be expensive to get started using IASTM!   Don’t get me wrong, you absolutely get what you pay for with the different tools, however price should not be an issue that limits your ability to start using IASTM.  If you have $5, you can start performing IASTM.

Over the last several years I have tried almost every IASTM tool on the market.  There are many great ones.  I am going to review several tools that I personally use and recommend.  I am going to start from cheapest to most expensive and overview the pros and cons of each.  When people are not sure IASTM is for them, I recommend starting with a cheap tool.  Once you get the hang of it and see the many benefits, you’ll definitely want to upgrade.

Consider this article your resource to choosing the best IASTM tool.

Before you get too far into the below article, I should say that stainless steel tools are the best.  People always ask me “what is your favorite tool?”  The tool I am currently recommending everyone purchase is the EDGE Tool by Erson Religioso.  It’s great stainless steel quality, affordable, and very versatile.  Erson has been very generous and has offered all my readers $15 off the tool:

 

 

IASTM Tools

Buffalo Horn IASTM Tools

buffalo hornBuffalo horn is probably the cheapest and easiest way to get started with IASTM.  It is easy to find on the internet, cheap, lightweight, and effective.  If you are new to IASTM or just want to test it out, this is a great tool to begin with while being very budget friendly.  It doesn’t feel or resonate very well, the more expensive tools feel SO MUCH better, but buffalo horn is certainly an acceptable material to use for your first IASTM tool.  Certainly not the best option but I would rather you use a $5 tool than not perform IASTM at all.  If budget is your primary concern, start here, otherwise move down the list!

 

Jade IASTM tools

jadeJade is a gemstone and a definite step up from buffalo horn.  They come in many different colors, though there does not seem to be a big difference in quality between the colors.  I also like the shape in the image to the right, which gives you a few useful edges.  Jade tools are heavier than buffalo horn, but also more slippery if you get too much lubricant on the tool.  They certainly resonate more than buffalo horn but still not nearly as much as the higher cost tools, such as stainless steel.  Jade is more fragile than buffalo horn, so keep this in mind.  It isn’t the best if you are worried you are not going to be able to protect it well.  It is an option and another good beginner tool, but you’ll want to upgrade soon.

 

Bian Stone IASTM Tools

obsidian toolI would put Bian a mild step up from Jade.  They tend to be smooth but not shiny, so have a better grip to it.  I feel it resonates more than jade or horn, and actually have a decent feel to them, but again nothing like stainless steel.  Although not the cheapest, these are a great low-cost option and work well.  You will certainly feel a difference between these and the cheaper tools above.  These also are more fragile than other tools and should be protected like jade.  Don’t drop them!  Considering the mild increase in cost and the fragility of the stones, I again say this is a good beginner tool, but you’ll likely want to upgrade soon.  These are getting harder to find on Amazon too.

 

Polycarbonate IASTM Tools

The next class of tools takes a step up and now includes plastic, or polycarnonate tools.  These tools are more durable than all of the above tools and tend to be custom shaped based specifically for manual therapy.  The shapes also tend to be larger, which is a good thing.  I prefer polycarbonate tools over the above natural tools for their durability.

dolphin polyThere is a clear winner in polycarbonate tools in my mind, the Dolphin by IAM Tools, based in the UK.  This is a “training” version of their stainless steel dolphin tool, but trust me, this is not just a training tool.  I love the shape, edges, and ability to grip.  Plus it is a bit larger than the above tools so you can work many different body parts.  This a good tool, but still nothing like stainless steel.

 

Stainless Steel IASTM Tools

Last but certainly not least are the stainless steel tools.  Let’s get this out-of-the-way first – stainless steel tools are by far the best tools for IASTM.  I definitely feel everyone should have at least one stainless steel tool if they are serious about IASTM.

You can’t compare the feel, resonation, durability, or even the weight.  I like a tool with a little weight to it.  Stainless isn’t perfect.  My number one issue is often related to grip as stainless steel can get VERY slippery during a session.  That is why the tools I use tend to have some feature that enhances the grip.  It is also easier to be aggressive with a stainless steel tool, so if you want to be gentle with someone, I would recommend using a different tool, at least initially.

There are two tools that you should highly consider.

edge toolThe first is the EDGE tool.  This is my recommended tool.  I think everyone should own one of these and it’s a great tool to start.  Think of this as the Swiss Army Knife of IASTM tools.  It has a bunch of different edges and a great ability to grip using the middle hole.  At only around $100, it is pretty hard to compete and is often most people’s first stainless steel tool.  It is a pretty versatile tool.

 

hawk gripsLastly, another great stainless steel option is a set of tools from Hawk Grips.  If the EDGE tool is the Swiss Army knife of IASTM tools, the Hawk Grips tools are the entire top-of-the-line Craftsman tool set!  These tools look really, really, familiar, right?  They are based off the most popular Graston stainless steel tools on the market but Hawk Grips are actually better than those tools!  They added a nice hash grip surface on each that really makes a big difference.

Hawk Grips offers a huge variety of tools, including my favorite the HG8 and the VERY popular HG1 handlebar tool.  There are also a lot of smaller tools designed to treat every body part.  These tools are more expensive, but are quality.  If you are looking for an entire set of tools and a version of IASTM tools just like the most popular ones, this is for you.  If you are not interested in the whole package, they sell the tools individually so you can slowly build your set as your budget allows

 

What is the Best IASTM Tool?

I don’t think there is a clear winner for each and every person.  If you treat a lot of athletes, you may want the Hawk Grip tools as they are larger and have a great variety.  If you just treat hands and wrists all day, you may want a smaller tool.  If you just have $100 to spend, the EDGE tool may be for you.

In all honestly, I use several tools together, and I bet you will too.  Start with what looks best for you right now, even if just a piece of horn, and as you see the benefits of IASTM start to expand your collection.  I have every tool on this list and I actually use all of them based on my goals, different clients, and body parts.

If I had to pick one, I would definitely start with the EDGE Tool.  It offers the most bang for the buck and is probably the clear winner in my mind for tools everyone should own.

 

Learn How to Start Performing IASTM Today!

Erson Religioso and I’s online educational program will teach you everything you need to know to start using IASTM today!  IASTM does not have to be complicated to learn or expensive to start using.  Learn everything about IASTM including the history, efficacy, tool options, different stroke patterns, basic techniques, advanced techniques, and how to integrate IASTM into your current manual therapy skills and treatment programs!

IASTM Technique 2.0 has now be released with updated research, new content, and now includes how to perform cupping and use mobility bands!

large-learn-more

IASTM Technique Program Now Available!

Are you ready to start learning how to start using instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) today?!?  I so excited to finally have finished my new online education program teaching you how and why to start using IASTM quickly and easily!  Erson Religioso and I teamed up to bring you this program.

Update: IASTM Technique 2.0 is now out!  IASTM Technique 2.0 has now be released with updated research, new content, and now includes how to perform cupping and use mobility bands!

 

IASTM Technique

iastm technique 2 cuppingIASTMtechnique.com is my new website teaching you everything you need to learn to start using IASTM today.  It is jam-packed with over 35 videos and over 7 hours of content!  I have teamed up with physical therapist Erson Religioso to produce the content, as Erson has a ton of great knowledge and experience using IASTM.

If you are not using IASTM, think about these things:

  • IASTM is pretty effective.  You and your patients are going to see the benefit quickly.
  • IASTM doesn’t have to be complicated to learn.  You don’t need a length certification process to begin.
  • IASTM doesn’t have to involve crazy expensive tools.  We’ll show you what we use for tools, some for under $5!

Everything you need to start using IASTM is covered!  We break the program down into 5 different portions:

  1. Basic Principles – We start the program out telling you about some of the history and background behind IASTM, including some of the research reports on the benefits and efficacy of using IASTM.  Once you understand the “why,” we jump right into the “how,” showing you the basics behind tool selection, grip, scanning assessments, stroke patterns, and more
  2. Body Part Specific Techniques – Once you have the basics down, we now break down the content by body part, going over how we use IASTM from head to toe.  At this point, you are ready to rock and start practicing, but we don’t stop there (like some programs do…).
  3. Advanced Techniques – Here is where you will take your IASTM skills to the next level.  We talk about how to integrate IASTM with your other manual therapy techniques and how to use IASTM for several different pathologies, movement dysfunctions, and to enhance neurodynamics.  There are lots of great videos here including footage of real patients and case studies.
  4. How to Use Cupping and Mobility Bands – IASTM Technique 2.0 now includes functional cupping and mobility compression bands!
  5. Resources – Great, now you know how to use IASTM like a pro, head over to the resources section to hear our unbiased recommendations on what to use for tools and lubricant, as well as other educational resources.  Plus get discounts on all EDGE Mobility Products.

 

Learn How to Start Performing IASTM Today!

Erson Religioso and I’s online educational program will teach you everything you need to know to start using IASTM today!  IASTM does not have to be complicated to learn or expensive to start using.  Learn everything about IASTM including the history, efficacy, tool options, different stroke patterns, basic techniques, advanced techniques, and how to integrate IASTM into your current manual therapy skills and treatment programs!  IASTM Technique 2.0 has now be released with updated research, new content, and now includes how to perform cupping and use mobility bands!
large-learn-more

IASTM, Sports Rehab Experts, and Bootcamps

This week’s Stuff You Should Read comes from SportsRehabExpert, Mike Robertson, Jim Laird, Moly Galbraith, Erson Religioso, and myself!  Big week!

 

Inner Circle and RehabWebinars.com Update

My next Inner Circle webinar will be tomorrow, Friday January 18th at 11:15 AM EST.  We’ll be discussing tips on how to assess and treat shoulder impingement.  There will be a bunch of great concepts that both the rehab and fitness groups will benefit from, including how to detect what type of impingement is occurring, what that means for us, how to get over the hump, and how to train around the issue in the meantime.  Inner Circle members can log in to the Inner Circle Dashboard and sign up for the live event.  If you can’t make it, don’t worry, I’ll get a recording of it up on the website within a few days.  If you aren’t a member of my Inner Circle, click here to learn how to access this and all my past webinars for the price of a latte.

Kevin Wilk finished up his 4-part webinar series on the Current Concepts in Rehabilitation Following ACL Reconstruction this week over at RehabWebinars.com.  Part 4 discusses some of the postoperative complications, like anterior knee pain and loss of motion, including what to watch out for and how to get past them in rehab.  Kevin is one of the best PTs in the world and his rehab program for ACL reconstruction is top notch.  This is exactly how Kevin and I treat ACL reconstructions.  Learn more about RehabWebinars.com and if you want to get a a taste of the awesome content, there is a sign up box to get access to part 1 of Kevin Wilk’s ACL Rehab series for free.

 

[hr]

IASTMtechnique.com Update

As many of you know, I have been working on an educational solution to teach people how to use instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) in their practice.  You don’t need ultra-expensive tools, long seminars, or crazy certifications that add to thousands of dollars of expenses.  That is crazy, it’s not that hard!

Well, I have some exciting news!  The website isn’t ready yet, but I’ve teamed up with Erson Religioso of TheManualTherapist.com to collaborate on the educational material.  I’ve been working on this for some time and admit that the IASTMtechnique.com project was always getting pushed back by bigger projects.  With Erson’s help, we are going to get this project done and out their for you to access.  Erson brings a ton of experience with IASTM and is going to make this even better!

Stay tuned for more information as we develop the website, we’ll be talking about this more over the next several months.  In the meantime, head over to IASTMtechnique.com and enter your email to make sure you get all the updates and qualify for the special launch price, when it happens.

 

[hr]

2013 Sports Rehab Expert Teleseminar Series

Every year at this time Joe Heiler release an amazing and FREE teleseminar series from some of the leading people in our field.  This is a quick and easy way to get an update on what is current and what new concepts you’ll be hearing about in 2013.  Always a fun resource.  There is a new telemseminar each week, which can be accessed both live and afterward as a recording.  Here is this year’s list of speakers:

  • Dan John – discusses ‘Intervention:  Course Corrections for the Athlete and Trainer‘ including goal setting, training the 6 basic movements, proper exercise progression, and more…
  • Dr. Mark Cheng – talks about Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), acupuncture vs. dry needling, combining TCM with corrective exercise, kettlebells, and the martial arts.
  • Diane Lee – one of the foremost experts on the lumbopelvic-hip (LPH) complex, discussing assessment and treatment using her Integrated Systems Model, and putting it all together to rehab and train athletes.
  • Mike Voight – discusses the 4×4 matrix of the Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA) to train motor control/stability and enhance movement.
  • Dr. Evan Osar – ‘Corrective Exercise Solutions for Common Hip and Shoulder Dysfunction‘ including breathing pattern corrections, the importance of joint centration, and more…
  • Jason Glass – Rotational power slings for golf and other rotation sports, screening rotational athletes, common injuries and prevention, and best training methods.
  • Robert Butler – researching the pillars of Functional Movement Systems including pain and effects on motor control, injury prediction and the FMS, and more…
  • Neil Rampe – using the Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS) and Postural Restoration Institute (PRI) systems in professional baseball, identifying and addressing asymmetries.
  • Charlie Weingroff – discusses principles from his Training=Rehab and How to Make a Monster seminars including soft core vs. hard core training, using DNS principles and joint centration, using the SFMA to target dysfunction.
  • Dr. Mark Scappaticci – discusses his Functional Integrated Therapy (FIT) system including Fascial Abrasion Technique and Functional Integrated Needling, treating painful and non-painful dysfunction, and working with elite athletes.
  • Kelly Starrett – talks about the unique challenges of working with CrossFit and other athletes that push themselves to the limits, the importance of joint mobility, tissue quality, and movement, plus a whole lot more…

CLICK HERE to sign up for FREE access for the 2013 Sports Rehab Expert Teleseminar Series.

 

 

[hr]

Bootcamp in a Box

Bootcamp in a BoxWow, lots of new educational announcements this week!  For the fitness people, Mike Robertson, Jim Laird, and Moly Galbraith have teamed up to produce a complete done-for-you system on implementing fitness bootcamps .  What an outstanding group!  This looks like it’s going to be one of the best fitness educational products of the year.

Bootcamp in a Box is literally a 6-month done-for-you program designed by Mike, Jim, and Molly. They lay it all out  in a 200+ page manual and accompanying DVD – metabolic exercises, corrective exercises, progressions & regressions, cueing instructions, the works…

Seriously, Mike Robertson promises the bootcamp owner who puts this program to work WILL become the go-to place in his/her town, and I believe him!

Bootcamp in a Box is on sale this week during the launch so CLICK HERE and get in for 33% off before the launch ends tomorrow night.

 

 

[hr]

The Fibroblaster IASTM Tool

UPDATE: There is a new article that discusses my current recommendations for the best IASTM tool.  This newer article contains my updated recommendation for several tool options and information on how to learn how to use IASTM.

Click here to see the list of best IASTM Tools

 

Over the past several months there has been much discussion about instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) techniques and IASTM tools on this website.  I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of people using IASTM.  For those that know me, you know that I am constantly striving to improve and find the best product to use for IASTM.  I have tried almost all of the products on the market and have shared my past thoughts on IASTM tools in a previous post and discussion.

There was a lot of discussion regarding my previous post on the Graston Technique and during the discussion, I was lucky enough to receive a post from Jacob Fey.  Jacob is a physical therapy student at the University of Buffalo and has started to make a pretty good IASTM tool called the Fibroblaster.  Before we talk about the tool, I asked Jacob to write me a brief background into the development of the Fibroblaster, below is Jacob’s story.

 

 

How and Why the Fibroblaster Started

IASTM ToolDuring undergrad I first heard of IASTM, from a friend and former classmate that was attending chiropractic college; he talked about Gua Sha, Graston and SASTM.  He went into their use and cost (how he was going to try to even pay for it).  He sparked my curiosity and I started to look into IASTM, particularly the major marketers (Graston, SASTM, and ASTYM) and how it was theorized to work.  Also, during my extremities orthopedic class in DPT, an adjunct clinical professor showed us a tool that he had been using.  This was my first hands on exposure to an instrument.  He also talked about some of the IASTM tools on the market.  Most of us were interested in the tools but not the price.  I joked to a couple of classmates that day in class that I could make them less expensively and they said they would buy one if I could pull it off.

I started talking with the Machine Shop staff in the Engineering Department at the University at Buffalo.  Since I was a student I had access to the university’s facilities to do the project at a substantial savings.  I learned to use CAD software to save money by doing the designing and prototyping myself.  Once I had the design, I also figured out the whole machining process and related costs.  It was pitched to my current and former classmates getting enough interest to move forward.  About 75% of the class pre-ordered to fund the project and the first run of Fibroblasters was made in late Fall ’09 (entire project was not-for-profit).

Over the following year, there was enough interest to pursue another run of Fibroblasters with an updated design. This time the entire project was done off campus with a local company to assist with manufacturing (Made in the USA).  After I collected the pre-orders and borrowed some startup money, I completed the necessary paperwork to form Fibroblaster LLC.  Tools were completed and Fibroblaster sales began Nov. 1st, 2010.

As with all good stories, I have to give a shout out for my mom.  She went online to be the first to purchase a Fibroblaster from the website, at retail price no less.  She proudly displays it next to the clay knickknacks that were made in elementary school.  For the financially strapped graduate student, there is a student discount for those willing to supply me with their advisor’s name, email, contact number, school name and grad date.  Once status is verified, they receive a discount via email.  Since the start sales have been steady and there has been lot of positive feedback from those who have purchased.  The goal of Fibroblaster is to make a quality soft tissue mobilization instrument without the high price tag that is associated with other stainless steel IASTM tools on the market.

 

My Thoughts on the Fibroblaster IASTM Tool

UPDATE: There is a new article that discusses my current recommendations for the best IASTM tool.  This newer article contains my updated recommendation for several tool options and information on how to learn how to use IASTM.

I thought that was a good story to share and that the product was worthy to promote to my readers (I have no financial interest). I have been using the tool for a couple of weeks now and must say that it is definitely worth looking into.  The design and materials, being stainless steel, are of top quality.

The tool has a great weight to it and resonates well, again thanks to the stainless steel.  The holes in the tool make it real easy to grip, especially when things get a little slippery.  And the sides have good concave and convex edges to them.  It has a single beveled edge but I found that you could using it in either direction to get a slightly different feel that was adequate.  I’m also trying to talk Jacob into working on a second Fibroblaster IASTM tool for more intricate areas of the body like the hand, forearm, foot, and ankle.

Fibroblaster Fibroblaster

I would still advocate that if you are interested in IASTM but worried about cost, that you start with simple Gua Sha tools made of horn, jade, or even bian stone.  I would rather see more people using IASTM with less expensive tools if cost is prohibitive to some.  But if you are ready to make the jump to a more expensive IASTM tool, stainless steel is definitely the way to go.

I have tried almost all of the tools on the market and the Fibroblaster ranks pretty high among them, I would recommend you try it first.  The Fibroblaster is relatively affordable for a stainless steel tool at $125, especially with the huge student discount that Jacob is offering at $75, and you have to respect Jacob’s approach and background story.  Kudos to him for trying to bring a quality IASTM tool to the market without excessive pricing!

 

 

Do You Have Interest in Learning More About IASTM?

My new online educational program will teach you everything you need to know to start using IASTM today!  IASTM does not have to be complicated to learn or expensive to start using.  Learn everything about IASTM including the history, efficacy, tool options, different stroke patterns, basic techniques, advanced techniques, and how to integrate IASTM into your current manual therapy skills and treatment programs!  IASTM Technique 2.0 has now be released with updated research, new content, and now includes how to perform cupping and use mobility bands!

large-learn-more

 

 

Graston Technique: A Case Study and Other Thoughts on Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization Techniques

UPDATE: There is a new article that discusses my current recommendations for the best IASTM tool.  This newer article contains my updated recommendation for several Graston alternatives and information on my online educational programming teaching you how to use IASTM

 

Today’s guest post is quick overview of the Graston IASTM technique and it’s application within a case study by Eric Schoenberg, MSPT, CSCS.  I thought Eric did a great job with the post and have will share some of my thoughts on instrument assisted soft tissue techniques, such as Graston technique, at the end of this article.

IASTM Technique

graston techniqueRegardless of treatment philosophy, it is difficult to dispute the importance of soft tissue work to help treat pathology, correct muscle imbalance, decrease recovery time, and restore proper muscle recruitment and firing patterns.

While there are many available soft tissue options, in my practice, I have found IASTM techniques to be particularly useful in both treatment and evaluation.  Many people don’t realize that the IASTM technique can also be a valuable diagnostic tool to quickly “scan” or evaluate a patient’s soft tissue quality and determine its contribution to a patient’s current symptoms or injury risk factor.

The IASTM technique concept is grounded in the works of English orthopedist James Cyriax and the concept of cross fiber treatment. The treatment edge of the IASTM instruments allows for improved precision in the treatment of fascial restriction and fibrotic/scar tissue.

I wanted to share my experience and techniques with the IASTM technique and will use a case study to illustrate the benefits and specificity of the IASTM Technique.

The patient is an 18 year old male who is a 3-sport athlete (football, basketball, baseball) presenting with 9 month history of anterior knee pain consistent with patellar tendinosis. The patient presents with the following objective findings at evaluation:

  • Point tenderness at inferior pole of patella
  • Pain at end-range supine and prone knee flexion
  • Pain with resisted concentric and eccentric knee extension (Kendall MMT position)
  • Decreased hip mobility B
  • Decreased ankle DF ROM B
  • Decreased lumbopelvic/hip and single leg stability
  • Decreased gluteal/core strength B

The patient is participating in pre-season football conditioning with emphasis on sagittal plane squat/split squat/lunge activities, sprinting (including hills), and plyometrics (sagittal plane). He is using foam roller daily on own to improve tissue quality. His symptoms are gradually worsening with increased training intensity.

After evaluating the patient, I decided to include IASTM technique treatment focused on the quadriceps, ITB, adductors, hamstring, gastroc/soleus, and tibialis anterior muscle groups.  Here are a couple of examples:

IASTM Technique – Seated Quadciceps

IASTM Technique – Seated Patellar Tendon

One specific application of IASTM technique is the ability to effectively treat the injured area in positions of provocation. This patient experiences symptom reproduction in the split squat/forward lunge position:

IASTM Technique – 1/2 Kneel Position

IASTM Technique – Dynamic With Squat:

Treatment Outcomes

The patient was seen for 3 treatments with full resolution of symptoms. Treatments consisted of the following:

  1. 1. Tissue quality: IASTM technique, daily lower body foam roller program
  2. 2. Mobility: hip and ankle mobility exercises, active warm-up corrective exercises
  3. 3. Multiplanar strength: frontal and transverse plane strength (emphasized single leg activity, band walks, lateral lunges, lumbopelvic stability- chops/lifts)
  4. 4. Activity Modification: patient educated in proper jump/land technique, limited sagittal plane repetitions, proper muscle firing patterns

Clinical Observations From Using the IASTM Technique:

1. The specificity of the treatment edge and the ability to provide uniform pressure is what sets the technique apart from other manual approaches.

2. The instruments truly enhance the clinician’s ability to detect and treat fascial restrictions and adhesions (particularly effective in positions of provocation).

3. Incorporating stretching and strengthening (tendon-loading) exercises with the instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization is the key to promoting re-alignment of the fibers and helping to fully remodel the injured tissue.

4. Coupling IASTM in the clinical setting with self myofascial release (SMR) products, such as foam rollers and other similar equipment at home or in an athletic setting (pre/post activity) is an ideal way to achieve maximum success.

Lastly, at least for me, the most exciting part of using IASTM Technique in the clinical setting is feeling better suited to treat the more difficult diagnoses (plantar fasciitis, chronic tendonosis, etc) with the expectation of good clinical outcomes.

 

My goal in writing this article is to present a simple case to allow the reader to appreciate the functionality and ease of use of the IASTM Technique. In addition, it is important to note that IASTM (along with any soft tissue treatment) should be used in conjunction with skilled movement evaluation and prescription of corrective exercise to allow for the most effective clinical outcomes.

Eric Schoenberg, MSPT, CSCS is co-owner of Momentum Physical Therapy with offices in Milford, MA and Wellesley, MA.  The owners of Momentum PT are experts in the human movement system. Their mission is to bridge the gap between traditional medicine and fitness with emphasis on patient education and injury prevention.  Visit eric’s blog at www.momentumptblog.blogspot.com.

 

Mike’s Thoughts

UPDATE: There is a new article that discusses my current recommendations for the best IASTM tool.  This newer article contains my updated recommendation for several Graston alternatives and information on my online educational programming teaching you how to use IASTM.

 

Eric, great article and examples of use of the IASTM technique.  I’m sure the patient got better from your very well thought out treatment plan and all of the techniques and exercises you performed in combination with IASTM technique.

It is important to note that while this article is specifically about the Graston technique, it also applies to instrumented assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) techniques in general.  Late last year I polled my readers and 20% of you said you used IASTM, including Graston technique, SASTM, and ASTYM.  We could also group in the traditional Gua Sha to this mix as well.

I have used these techniques and do incorporate IASTM in my practice, I have also taken the basic Graston class (though have not taken SASTM and ASYTM classes and have not used their tools).  Here are my thoughts:

  • IASTM is a valuable component of my treatments, but just a component.  Just like everything else, it has its value and it has areas where I would choose another technique.
  • There are a lot of misconceptions here and the internet makes this worse – a huge black and blue down the leg is not what you are trying to achieve using IASTM.  I consider this a sign that you’ve done too much.  This is a misconception.
  • The actual Graston Technique tools and courses are good.  If you have the budget to go all out for these, great, they will be great to work with. I would be surprised if you were not satisfied with the course and their tools.  They have put a lot of thought and effort into their technique and tools.
  • I do not use the Graston instruments.  I think many more people should learn IASTM techniques.  If you really like the technique and want to learn more or get the better Graston tools, great.  But cost should not be a reason that you don’t learn how to use IASTM.
  • In regard to tools, there are so many quality IASTM tools on the market it’s difficult to actually recommend Graston Tools due to the cost.  Click here to see my review of IASTM tools.

 

Learn How to Start Performing IASTM Today!

Erson Religioso and I’s online educational program will teach you everything you need to know to start using IASTM today!  IASTM does not have to be complicated to learn or expensive to start using.  Learn everything about IASTM including the history, efficacy, tool options, different stroke patterns, basic techniques, advanced techniques, and how to integrate IASTM into your current manual therapy skills and treatment programs!  IASTM Technique 2.0 has now be released with updated research, new content, and now includes how to perform cupping and use mobility bands!

large-learn-more

Pin It on Pinterest

Optin webinar graphic

5 Things You Need to Understand to Master Functional Rehab and Performance

Join Mike's Newsletter and gain FREE access to his webinar overviewing his system of integrated functional rehab and performance training, PLUS these bonuses:

1. My 1+ Hour Functional Rehab and Performance Webinar

2. My 36-Page Solving the Patellofemoral Mystery eBook

3. My Accelerated ACL Rehabilitation Protocol

Thanks! Check your email for more information and your FREE bonuses!