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What Is IASTM?

Instrument assisted soft tissue mobilisation is a specialised technique used with hand held tools which enables trained therapists to efficiently locate and treat soft tissue dysfunction. 


The purpose of instrument assisted soft tissue mobilisation? 

IASTM is performed with specifically designed instruments that are used to detect and treat fascial restrictions such as scar tissue. Scar tissue forms in an irregular pattern within a damaged area of tissue. Scar tissue can limit movement and produce pain. IASTM is performed to break up scar tissue and trigger inflammatory response. The inflammation response helps the body absorb scar tissue and produce new collagen around the site of injury.


When can instrument assisted soft tissue mobilisation be used?

IASTM is a beneficial treatment that can be used in many circumstances.


These can include:


  • Post Surgery 

  • Post Injury


IASTM can be used post injury and post-surgery.


IASTM is a specific treatment type to help treat acute and chronic soft tissues conditions and assist recovery after injury. IASTM can help treat an injury area by breaking down scar tissue, restore movement, and increasing the healing process. IASTM helps break down scar tissue which is formed around injury. Scar tissue does not align with previous tissues which can cause decreased strength, restrictive movement and reduced blood flow. IASTM helps break down scar tissue by applying movement and pressure onto the area to realign and correct the alignment of tissues. By breaking down scar tissue, movement is increased. IASTM also helps to increase the healing process to help speed up the recovery of the injury. IASTM causes a mild inflammatory response that brings blood flow with cells that can help assist the injured area and remove toxins and waste products.


IASTM can also be effective in enhancing healing and soft tissue mobilisation post-surgery. After surgery scarring and thickening of tissues occur produced by the body response to injury. IASTM helps separate and break down scar tissue around an area. IASTM can also help my stretching connective tissue and muscle fibres to help restore movement. The friction of IASTM against the skin also increases blood circulation which is crucial to helping in the healing process. The result of IASTM treatment after surgery can help eliminate pain and regain movement.


What are the physiological effects of instrument assisted soft tissue mobilisation?

During an IASTM treatment / session there are many physiological effects. The physiological effects of IASTM include:


  • Increased Cellular Exchange 

  • Increased Vascular Response

  • Breakdown / Realignment Of Collagen Fibres


Receiving IASTM can cause many beneficial physiological effects including, increased cellular exchange, increased vascular response and the realignment of collagen fibres.


Cellular exchange is the process of transportation of cells going out and coming into tissues. The friction of IASTM against soft tissues causes increased blood flow and cellular movement.

Cellular exchange is important to remove bad cells such as metabolic waste products, toxins and replace them with oxygenated cells. An increase of oxygenated cells in tissues also increases nutrients and can help repair any damaged tissues.


Vascular response is the reaction to injury to tissues in the body. IASTM can cause inflammation in an area which is the response to cells being damaged in the body. Vascular response is followed by vasodilation (widening) of the capillaries. This process delivers new oxygenated blood the area to encourage healing. Nutrients and minerals carried in oxygenated blood are essential for cell repair and growth.


IASTM can be used to treat scar tissue and adhesions in soft tissues. After injury, the body try's to repair the area by laying down scar tissue. Scar tissue can cause problems due to the uneven and haphazard layering over tissues. Scar tissue does not align correctly with direction of previous tissues. IASTM can break down restrictive scar tissue and re-align the collagen fibres with into the direction of the normal tissue. Realigning restrictive tissue is important to restore movement and reduce pain.

Instrument assisted soft tissue mobilisation benefits.


Benefits of IASTM include:

  • Reduced Pain

  • Increased Range Of Movement

  • Increased Tissue Elasticity

  • Improved Recovery


IASTM can help reduce pain in many ways. IASTM helps decrease pain by increasing blood circulation, removing restrictive tissues and interrupting pain signal pathways.

IASTM increases the blood circulation by dilating the vessels under the skin. Dilating vessels allows more blood to through an area. Increased circulation also increases temperature which can reduce the feeling of pain. IASTM also helps by breaking down restrictive tissue such as scar tissue or adhesions. This scar tissues can restrict movement and therefore cause pain. IASTM releases scar tissue to help restore movement and decrease pain. IASTM will be beneficial to reduce pain by interrupting the pain signals to the brain. It interrupts pain signals by sending other signals to the brain and stopping pain signals from being received.


IASTM massage helps increase movement by breaking down scar tissue and adhesions. When soft tissue is injured collagen fibres are laid in a hap hazard direction across the muscle creating scar tissue. This reduces movement of the tissues. IASTM can apply force across soft tissues, breaking them down and realign collagen fibres into correct form. Once muscle fibres are realigned, range of movement is increased.

IASTM helps increase range of movement by increasing the tissue elasticity. Massage applies pressure to tissue fibres, stretching and elongating them. Stretching tissue fibres is important to increase range of movement around an area. When tissue is stretched, spindles record the change in length to the tissue and sends signals to the central nervous system. Gradually, the more the tissue fibres are stretched the spindles come accustomed to the new length and reduces signalling. The more tissue receptors are trained the greater the movement.

IASTM can help improve recovery by increasing blood circulation and breaking down scar tissue. Increased blood circulation allows more cellular exchange and more nutrients and oxygen to be delivered to an affected area. Increase circulation by IASTM helps damaged cells to repair and heal. IASTM can be used to break up scar tissue and realign the fibres back into normal form. Realignment of fibres increases recovery of the soft tissues.



Instrument assisted soft tissue mobilisation (IASTM) uses instruments along the skin and soft tissues to treat problem areas. IASTM can help relieve tight tissues and increase healing process of an area. IASTM can be effective to use post injury and post-surgery to help break down scar tissue and adhesions which form. IASTM produces an increase in cellular exchange, increased vascular response and help realign collagen fibres. Many benefits of IASTM can be used as a specialised treatment to help reduce pain, increase movement, increase tissue elasticity and improve recovery. It is also a great modality to use in conjunction with other forms of treatment, helping in getting the best results for the patient. 

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