Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilisation

Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilisation (IASTM) is a simple, non-invasive form of manual therapy to manipulate or mobilise soft tissue structures of the human body. IASTM is becoming increasingly popular these days among both practitioners and patients alike due to its remarkable safety and efficacy profile. The therapy is nonaggressive, yet effective, and can be applied either alone or in conjunction with supplementary exercises and additional modalities.

What is IASTM?

IASTM is a procedure in which instruments are used to mechanically stimulate soft tissue structures to relieve musculoskeletal pain and discomfort and improve overall mobility and function. In other words, IASTM is a common term that describes the use of a range of ergonomically designed tools to enable clinicians to detect and treat soft tissue pain, injury, and dysfunction.

These include:


·         Fascial restrictions

·         Scar tissue

·         Adhesions

·         Thickenings

·         Fibrotic nodules

·         Fibrosis

·         Tissue degeneration

The IASTM instruments are uniquely designed to provide an efficient detection of soft tissue dysfunction and accurate application of force during treatment. These tools help to apply different strokes and palpate at deeper levels of the body. In other words, they allow greater depth of mechanical force transmission at various body points where the hands simply cannot reach. At Black Sheep Fitness, we use the Rockblade tools. These have been carefully designed to include multiple surfaces and angles that allow soft tissue work on any part of the body. From wide flat surfaces suitable for large surface area work such as quads and hamstrings to neat grooves that allow close work through areas like the knuckles and tendinous areas like the Achilles.



Conditions suitable for treatment can include:

  • Medial and lateral epicondylitis ( golfer's and tennis elbow)
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Neck & back pain
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Post-surgical & traumatic scars
  • Patellofemoral disorders
  • Myofascial pain and restrictions
  • Chronic & acute sprains/strains
  • Reduced ROM due to scar tissue
  • Achilles tendinosis
  • IT-band syndrome

IASTM is based upon the concept of deep friction massage applied transverse to the direction of specific tissue involved, to reach the soft tissue structures of tendon, ligament, and muscle. This technique could induce a therapeutic movement within the affected tissue and help maintain the mobility, preventing adhesions of scars by evoking local hyperaemia (increased blood flow).  IASTM adheres to the same the rationale for traditional cross friction or transverse friction massage, but the difference is that it is performed with specially designed instruments. that provides the clinician with a mechanical advantage, which allows deeper penetration, rapid localisation and more effective treatment. It also helps to apply longitudinal pressure along the course of muscle fibres. Another advantage of using IASTM is that both the patient and the clinician perceive an increased vibration sense, which is generally perceived to be an indication of altered tissue properties.  This elevated perception eases the task of evaluating structural and /or functional tissue changes. Coincidentally, it also increases the patient's conciousness of altered sensations within the affected tissues.