Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization

Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM), also known as Scraping Technique, is a very effective technique in which Dr. Justin Jelen utilizes stainless steel instruments designed to help him locate and treat various musculoskeletal injuries. IASTM is influenced by Gua Sha, a similar technique which has been an integral part of traditional Chinese medicine for thousands
of years.

IASTM is successful at effectively treating almost all soft tissue injuries—including acute, chronic, and post-surgical. This technique is utilized to break down scar tissue, reduce muscle spasms/tightness, and improve blood flow; the effect of this is to collectively bring more oxygen into the tissue, therefore helping it heal faster. Various instrument shapes, sizes, and edges enable specific, localized treatment for all regions of the body and all body types. This allows Dr. Jelen to deliver targeted treatment at problematic scar tissue and restrictions in fascia (the connective tissue bands that separate muscles from each other), which can lead to a faster rehabilitation and recovery. Such specific treatments with IASTM can be very effective and beneficial to eliminate pain, restore range of motion, and regain normal function.

Relevant IASTM coursework in which Dr. Jelen has been trained: 

Graston Technique

Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization FAQ: 

What conditions can be treated with IASTM? 

IASTM can treat essentially all soft tissue injuries, including but not limited to the following conditions:

Neck pain (cervical sprain/strain)
Back pain (lumbar sprain/strain)
Tight muscle and fascial adhesions
Wrist pain (carpal tunnel syndrome)
Shoulder pain (rotator cuff tendinosis/itis)
Ankle pain (Achilles tendinosis/itis)
Scar tissue buildup
Hamstring strain/injuries
Hip pain and stiffness
Heel pain (plantar fasciitis)
Knee pain (patellofemoral disorders)
IT band issues (iliotibial band)
Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylosis/itis)
Golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylosis/itis)
Women’s Health (post-mastectomy and Caesarean scarring)
Trigger finger

Is IASTM a new technique?

No, IASTM has been a part of Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Orthopedic surgeons, including Dr. James Cyriax (“the father of orthopedic medicine”) began doing cross fiber massage therapy in the mid 1900s, and the efficacy of this approach spread. Today, IASTM is frequently used in several universities, hospital-based outpatient facilities, industrial setting treatments, and in the professional sports world, particularly with NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB physicians and trainers. Dr. Jelen has treated countless patients with IASTM, both athletes and non-athletes alike.

How are the IASTM tools unique?

Dr. Jelen utilizes various IASTM instruments of many shapes and sizes to allow effective treatment of the patient—no matter the body part or body type. The tools are stainless steel and are specially developed with different beveled edges and contours to allow for comfortable yet very specific, effective treatments.

Why is scar tissue problematic?

Scar tissue limits range of motion because it negatively affects sensory motor firing rates and frequencies, which then impacts the nervous system, making it more sensitive, painful, and dysfunctional when one attempts to use certain muscles and control movement. IASTM can help interrupt and break this cycle of vicious pain, limitations, and dysfunctional movement

Is scar tissue different than normal tissue?

When scar tissues forms in an area, it often develops in a dense, fibrotic, and haphazard manner; this irregular orientation of the tissues results in painful, dysfunctional, and stiff/limited range of motion. In contrast, normal, non-injured tissue is generally more organized and allows smoother, more comfortable, more efficient, and more functional bodily movements.

How will I feel during a treatment of IASTM?

Dr. Jelen will fully explain all parts and exactly what to expect from your treatment sessions. Oftentimes during a treatment session with IASTM Dr. Jelen with utilize a couple of the instruments to address various sides and angles of a body part. Treatments with these instruments can range from very light to moderately deep pressure, and often feel “tender but nice” or “hurts so good.”

How will I feel after a treatment of IASTM?

The technique can sometimes initially cause minor bruising or petechiae, which are tiny red spots located under the surface of the skin and that are formed when tiny blood vessels called capillaries break open. This is a normal response and will go away on its own without leaving scarring. Patients can report feeling mild soreness shortly after being treated, but eventually greater ease of movement, improved range of motion, and less pain/discomfort.

Can IASTM be utilized on both acute or chronic (long lasting) injuries?

Yes, IASTM is effective for treating almost all soft tissue injuries, including acute, chronic, and even post-surgical. Reducing and affecting localized scar tissue is one of the ways that IASTM can be helpful for patients after a surgery. Dr. Jelen has experience treating patients after surgeries, including a mastectomy or Achilles tendon repair.

How can Dr. Jelen utilize the IASTM tools?

The IASTM tools are intended to be an extension of the practitioner’s own hands, allowing Dr. Jelen to effectively perform almost any soft tissue technique that one would be able to perform with their hands or elbows. Examples of these soft tissue techniques are scraping, pin and stretch, and ischemic compression. The IASTM tools can even assist Dr. Jelen with examining and diagnosing the health of certain soft tissues.


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