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The Power of Instrument-Assisted Techniques for Soft Tissue Healing

By Dr. Grove Higgins

In the wide-ranging realm of manual therapies, numerous treatment modalities are available, each with unique advantages. Instrument-Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM) has gained significant recognition as an effective treatment modality. As a healthcare professional, I incorporate various techniques, including IASTM with Rocktape Blades and hands-on methods like myofascial release techniques. For those uncertain about what therapy to pursue, this blog will elucidate the benefits of IASTM and how it compares to other manual therapies.

What Is Instrument-Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM)?

IASTM is a therapeutic procedure that utilizes specialized tools to perform myofascial mobilization. It aims to identify and treat soft tissue lesions and fascial restrictions, reducing pain and increasing the range of motion.

In my practice, I employ Rocktape RockBlades for IASTM. These precision-engineered instruments

have a unique design that allows me to locate adhesions or restrictions in the fascia more accurately than I could with my bare hands. The RockBlades, while seeming imposing, are incredibly safe and have been designed to glide over the skin, offering an effective way to manage conditions like tendinitis, sprains, strains, or postoperative scar tissue.

How Does IASTM Work?

IASTM works by creating microtrauma in an affected area, which helps stimulate the healing process. The controlled microtrauma leads to an inflammatory response, promoting blood flow to the region and instigating the body's natural healing processes. This results in the breakdown of scar tissue and fascial restrictions and enhances the re-alignment of collagen fibers, ultimately improving tissue health and function.

Fascia Web
Fascia Web
Fascia is a connective tissue that provides support and protection to muscles and organs. It helps maintain the body's structural integrity and facilitates movement and the transmission of force. Fascia also contains nerve endings and blood vessels, important for sensory and circulatory functions.

IASTM vs. Active Release Techniques (and other myofascial release techniques)

Now, you might wonder how IASTM compares to manual techniques like ART. I have primarily used ART in my practice. This patented, state-of-the-art soft tissue system/movement-based technique. It treats problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, and nerves, similar to IASTM. However, the approach varies.

This hands-on technique involves direct contact with the affected area. I must apply precise tension while asking the patient to execute specific movements. This method is excellent for pinpointing and resolving individual adhesions.

In contrast, IASTM, with Rocktape Blades, offers me the ability to cover large areas efficiently. It's an excellent option when working with deeper tissues that may be difficult to reach with manual techniques or when managing a widespread condition like fibromyalgia. Furthermore, IASTM can be less physically taxing on the therapist, which can be a significant advantage during long treatment sessions.

The Benefits of IASTM

Here are a few key benefits of IASTM:

  1. Reduced Pain: IASTM stimulates the nervous system to alter pain perception, providing immediate pain relief in many cases.

  2. Increased Mobility: By breaking down scar tissue and fascial restrictions, IASTM promotes improved flexibility and movement.

  3. Faster Recovery: The enhanced blood flow and healing response can help speed recovery from injury or surgery.

  4. Versatility: IASTM can be used to treat a variety of conditions, from common sports injuries to chronic pain disorders.

While manual therapy techniques like ART and IASTM have different approaches, both methods offer valuable tools for treating various soft tissue conditions. As a professional therapist, I believe in adopting a flexible, patient-centric approach. Recognizing that each patient is unique, I utilize these techniques, along with others, to provide a holistic, comprehensive treatment plan that optimizes recovery and enhances overall well-being. I will always start with my hands, but when the situation dictates,

We often combine manual soft tissue treatment with Piezowave Shockwave Therapy (Myofascial Acoustic Compression). Learn more about that here and how it can help eliminate pain, break down scar tissue, and improve tissue healing.

Please reach out if you need clarification on which therapy suits your needs best. We can develop a customized treatment plan that aligns with your goals and physical condition. Remember, the first step towards recovery is understanding your options and choosing the best path for you. Discover the benefits of Instrument-Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization today, and embark on your journey towards optimal health.


"Instrument-Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization in Physical Therapy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis" - This study, published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science, provides a comprehensive analysis of IASTM's effectiveness and potential benefits in physical therapy. This reputable, peer-reviewed journal lends substantial credibility to the contents of the blog.

"The Efficacy of Instrument-Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization: A Systematic Review" - A study published in The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association offers an exhaustive review of the efficacy of IASTM. This document will validate the benefits of IASTM highlighted in the blog.

"A comparison of the effects of deep tissue massage and therapeutic massage on chronic low back pain" - Published in Studies in Health Technology and Informatics, this paper presents a comparison between different massage techniques, including those similar to ART. Citing this study can corroborate the section where ART is discussed and compared to IASTM.

Rocktape official website - Rocktape, as the manufacturer of the IASTM tools used in the practice, is a credible resource to reference. Their website provides detailed descriptions of their products, as well as their benefits and usage.

"Active Release Techniques: Soft-Tissue Management System for the Upper Extremity" - An article from the American Journal of Occupational Therapy discussing the effectiveness of ART.

Instrument-Assisted Techniques Soft Tissue Healing


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