metal bar therapy across female quad

Are you dealing with pain, stiffness, or movement limitations? Physical therapists have many ways to help, and one technique gaining popularity is Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM), also known as the Graston Technique. Let’s explore how this innovative method can help you feel better and move more freely.

What is IASTM/Graston Technique?

steel graston tools on gray background

IASTM uses specialized stainless-steel instruments to target and treat soft tissues like muscles, fascia, and tendons. During the session, the therapist glides the instruments over the affected area, creating micro-trauma that kickstarts your body’s natural healing process. Don’t let “micro-trauma” scare you because this is a good thing! A breakdown of scar tissue and adhesions can lead to significant improvements in tissue recovery. While you might feel some mild discomfort during treatment, it’s manageable and part of the process. It’s not painful, but you may experience mild soreness or bruising, which typically resolves within a few days. But don’t worry, soreness and bruising are completely normal—they are signs of your body’s healing response!

How Can IASTM Help You?

Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM) is a versatile tool that addresses various musculoskeletal issues. Here’s how it can make a difference:

  • Chronic Pain Relief: Suffering from persistent pain in your neck, back, shoulders, or knees? IASTM can help reduce pain and inflammation by creating controlled micro-trauma to the tissues which triggers a healing response.
  • Post-Surgery Recovery: Surgery can leave behind scar tissue that limits mobility. IASTM helps break down these adhesions, improving your range of motion and enhancing the quality and flexibility of soft tissues.
  • Sports Injuries: Whether it’s a sprain, strain, or other athletic injury, IASTM promotes healing and speeds up recovery. It breaks down adhesions, increases blood flow, releases tight muscles, and enhances tissue flexibility.
  • Muscle Tightness and Trigger Points: IASTM targets tight muscles and painful trigger points, helping you move with ease. By releasing tension and improving blood flow, it reduces discomfort and enhances mobility.

Common Injuries That Benefit From IASTM:

  • Tendinitis:
    • Achilles Tendinitis
    • Patellar Tendinitis (Jumper’s Knee)
    • Rotator Cuff Tendinitis
  • Plantar Fasciitis:
    • Inflammation of the plantar fascia causing heel pain.
  • Myofascial Pain Syndrome:
    • Chronic pain disorder is when pressure on sensitive points (trigger points) in the muscles causes pain.
  • Scar Tissue and Adhesions:
    • Post-surgical scars or injury-related adhesions.
  • Shin Splints:
    • Medial tibial stress syndrome causes pain along the shinbone.
  • IT Band Syndrome:
    • Inflammation of the iliotibial band causes pain on the outer side of the knee.
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:
    • Compression of the median nerve causes pain and numbness in the hand and fingers.
  • Chronic Ankle Sprains:
    • Recurrent ankle sprains lead to chronic pain and instability.
  • Golfers’ and Tennis Elbow:
    • Medial and lateral epicondylitis causes pain in the elbow.
  • Cervical Pain:
    • Neck pain due to muscle tension or soft tissue restrictions.
  • Lower Back Pain:
    • Often due to muscle tightness, fascial restrictions, or scar tissue.
  • Bursitis:
    • Inflammation of the bursa, such as in the shoulder, hip, or knee.

Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization helps by breaking down scar tissue, improving blood flow, reducing pain, and promoting healing in these conditions.

Watch this IASTM treatment in action! Therapist Mandi Dowdy, PT, DPT, Cert. MDT is using IASTM on Plantar Fasciitis patient, Faith. See how she glides the instrument over the lower leg and locates a trigger point. She then focuses on this point to break down tightness and knots. After the session, Faith walked away feeling more length in her calf and plantar fasciitis tendon.

Enhancing Your Therapy with Manual Techniques

Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization is just one versatile tool in a comprehensive physical therapy plan. Combining IASTM with other manual therapy techniques like massage, joint mobilizations, and stretching can lead to even better results. This holistic approach helps you manage pain, improve function, and prevent future injuries.
Curious if IASTM could help you? Talk to your physical therapist! They’ll evaluate your needs and determine if this technique is suitable for your specific condition.

Partner with The Therapy Network for Your Healing Journey

Discover more about Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM) and other transformative physical therapy techniques at The Therapy Network, where we’re dedicated to empowering and educating you to achieve your best health.


As a Direct Access provider, you can start your journey to recovery at The Therapy Network without a physician referral. Call us today at 757-496-3700 or visit our website to schedule your appointment. Take control of your health and experience the transformative power of effective physical therapy!