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!

If you seek an effective way to recover from an injury or prevent future ones, look no further than Aquatic Therapy. The Therapy Network in coastal Virginia offers Aquatic Therapy sessions that can be your ticket to improved well-being and an active lifestyle.

What is Aquatic Therapy?

Simply, it involves personalized, hands-on therapy techniques and specific body movements designed for water use. How do Aquatic Therapy exercises promote recovery and wellness?

Imagine exercising in an environment where gravity's effects are reduced, and joint strain is minimized. Water provides natural buoyancy, making recovery and wellness, with Aquatic Therapy an ideal choice for rehabilitation after an illness or injury.

Your Therapy Network therapist will use specially designed exercise equipment and aids like floats and balls to assist you during your sessions. Through targeted exercises and movements, you will experience the benefits of this low-impact yet highly efficient form of Therapy.

aquatic therapy group

7 Benefits of Pool Exercise

Let’s take a closer look at the remarkable benefits of Aquatic Therapy and how it promotes recovery and wellness. Here are seven of the top benefits: 

  • Lowers Fall Risk:  If you are concerned about balance and coordination issues, Aquatic Therapy is a game-changer. In a safe and supportive aquatic environment, you will regain confidence and reduce the risk of falls by improving these skills.

  • Helps with Balance and Coordination:  Whether recovering from an injury, dealing with a chronic condition, or simply looking to enhance performance, aquatic therapy can help improve your balance and coordination—the resistance provided by water challenges your muscles, enhancing your overall stability.

  • Reduced Stress on Joints and Bones:  Water's buoyancy provides a unique advantage by alleviating stress on your joints and bones. The buoyancy makes Aquatic Exercise an excellent choice for individuals with arthritis, back pain, or orthopedic injuries. By reducing the strain on these areas, you can engage in rehabilitation exercises comfortably and with less pain.

  • Builds Muscle Strength and Endurance:  Water is hundreds of times more resistive than air, making it ideal for building strength and endurance. Your Therapy Network therapist will guide you toward improved muscle tone through exercises.

  • Increases Aerobic Capacity: Water-based exercises elevate your heart rate and enhance your cardiovascular fitness. Aquatic Therapy offers an enjoyable and effective way to improve your aerobic capacity without placing excessive stress on your joints.

  • Improves Joint Flexibility: Aquatic Therapy can help you regain and improve flexibility if you struggle with limited joint mobility. The water's resistance enables you to move your joints through a greater range of motion, restoring joint function and reducing stiffness.

  • Reduces Swelling:  Aquatic Therapy can effectively reduce swelling in injured or inflamed areas. The pressure exerted by the water helps to improve circulation, promoting healing.

As a bonus, can Aquatic Therapy help you lose weight? "Aquatics therapy is considered superior to traditional forms of physical exercise for individuals who are overweight and obese. When coupled with a new diet, aquatics therapy can help people lose weight safely and effectively.”— 

Aquatic Therapy has significant benefits, but how else does it promote recovery and wellness? What conditions can benefit from Aquatic Therapy?

Conditions that Benefit from Aquatic Exercise

Now that you are familiar with the benefits of Aquatic Therapy, you may wonder which conditions can benefit from this physical therapy approach. Aquatic Physical Therapy has been successfully used to treat a wide variety of conditions, including:

  • Arthritis

  • Back Pain

  • Balance Disorder

  • Chronic Pain

  • Relief from Diabetes Symptoms

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Joint Pain

  • Multiple Sclerosis

  • Orthopedic or Sports Injuries

  • Post-Operative Conditions

  • Stroke

  • Tendinitis

With the list of benefits and conditions improved with Aquatic Therapeutic Exercise, we hope that we have answered the question, “Does aquatic therapy promote recovery and wellness?”

Aquatic Therapy at The Therapy Network

The Therapy Network is here to support you on your journey to recovery and optimal health. Our team of skilled physical therapists specializes in customizing your PT journey and will guide you every step of the way.

Read more on our website.

Experience the power of water in healing and transforming your body. Did you know you do not need a physician's referral or prescription to schedule an appointment at The Therapy Network? Contact us to schedule an appointment in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia.

image with text rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis and Physical Therapy

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes inflammation, pain, and joint damage. While antirheumatic drugs are the primary treatment for RA, the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) has recently released its first-ever guidelines recommending the integration of exercise, rehabilitation, diet, and additional integrative interventions into Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment. These guidelines emphasize the crucial role of physical therapists and occupational therapists in a multidisciplinary treatment team. This blog post will explore the key recommendations outlined in the guidelines and the importance of physical therapy in the management of RA.

Development of the Rheumatoid Arthritis and Physical Therapy Guidelines

The development of the guidelines involved a comprehensive process that included a systematic review of the research literature, input from a panel of patients with RA, and collaboration with experts in the field. A team of APTA (American Physical Therapy Association) members actively participated in the development of the guidelines, ensuring that the perspectives of physical therapists were incorporated.

PT Exercise Recommendations for Rheumatoid Arthritis

The guidelines strongly recommend consistent engagement in exercise as a part of Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment. The specific type, frequency, intensity, and duration of exercise should be tailored to each individual's needs and goals. While more research is needed to determine the most effective exercise approaches, physical therapists play a vital role in guiding patients in identifying the exercises and treatments that best suit their unique circumstances.

female physical therapist treating patient

The guidelines also provide conditional recommendations for aerobic, aquatic, resistance, and mind-body exercises, such as Tai Chi or yoga, over no exercise. These recommendations are supported by varying levels of evidence certainty, ranging from low to very low certainty.

Rehabilitation Recommendations

Participation in comprehensive physical therapy and occupational therapy is strongly recommended throughout the course of RA. Early referral to these therapies is encouraged to ensure that interventions can be tailored to each patient's specific needs. The guidelines also provide additional recommendations for hand therapy, splinting, orthoses, compression, bracing, joint protection techniques, activity pacing, assistive devices, and vocational rehabilitation.

Diet Recommendations

Based on available evidence, the guidelines conditionally recommend a Mediterranean-style diet for individuals with RA. However, they acknowledge that patient preferences, accessibility, and associated burdens may affect the ability to adhere to this diet. The guidelines also recommend following established dietary recommendations without relying on dietary supplements.

Additional Recommendations

The guidelines include recommendations for and against various interventions. Some of these recommendations include the use of standardized self-management programs, cognitive behavioral therapy, acupuncture, massage therapy, and thermal modalities. They also advise against the use of electrotherapy and chiropractic therapy for individuals with RA.

The Role of Physical Therapy in RA Management

The guidelines highlight the significant role of physical therapy in the management of Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment. Physical therapists are crucial in guiding patients through exercise programs, rehabilitation interventions, and providing education on joint protection techniques. By integrating physical therapy into routine care, patients with RA can experience improved outcomes and a better quality of life.

RA patient on exam table

Barriers to Implementation

While the guidelines represent an important step in incorporating physical therapy into RA care, several barriers to full implementation exist. These barriers include a lack of knowledge about the importance of exercise among rheumatology providers, limited awareness of the role of physical therapy among individuals with RA, varying levels of expertise among physical therapists in treating RA, payment policy challenges, and a need for further research in this area. Addressing these barriers is essential to ensure the successful implementation of the guidelines and to enhance the role of physical therapy in meeting the healthcare needs of adults with RA.


The release of the first-ever guidelines for exercise, rehabilitation, diet, and additional integrative interventions in the treatment of RA marks a significant milestone in RA management. These guidelines highlight the importance of physical therapy and occupational therapy as essential components of a multidisciplinary treatment team. By following the recommendations outlined in the guidelines, healthcare providers can optimize the care provided to individuals with RA, leading to improved outcomes and a better quality of life.

Create Your RA Treatment Plan Today!

cobra pose

Have you suffered from persistent back pain or discomfort in your extremities for months? Perhaps you have tried physical therapy and are still looking for a better solution. It is time to find out about the McKenzie Method® for back pain.

The McKenzie Method® used in physical therapy is a non-invasive and self-managed solution that may fit your needs today and into the future. Each of TTN’s six locations has a McKenzie Institute®-trained physical therapist.

How Common is Back Pain?

You are not alone. Here are a few statistics about back pain in the US today:

  • Over 72 million Americans will suffer from back pain during their lifetime. That is 8 out of 10 in the United States. —

  • Out of those with mild symptoms, 5% will develop chronic pain if left untreated. –Pain News Network

  • 4 out of 10 employees that sit at a desk will suffer from back pain at some time. --NIH

Usually, back pain builds gradually until the pain is noticed and impacts the enjoyment of your day. Here is a quote that sums up the problem facing many today:

"When back pain suddenly shows up, we are tempted to blame it on the last minor stressor that affected it, such as a soft bed in a hotel. This is like blaming your bankruptcy on the last latte you bought before your account finally went into the red.”—Todd Hargrove.

After reading the quote, you may be nodding your head in agreement. Most suffering from long-term back pain admit to ignoring the initial discomfort.

The Method that Works is Available Now

You may be new to the pain or have been suffering from back pain over an extended period of time.  You may have even tried other solutions, even physical therapy.

Two of the top benefits of The McKenzie Method® is that your therapist will know within a few sessions if another treatment protocol is needed. If successful, it becomes a method you can deploy at the first sign of discomfort.

What if you could turn back time and stop or alleviate back pain before it impacts your day? The McKenzie Method® for back pain gives you the tools and exercises to relieve pain without using pharmaceuticals. The technique relieves pain and lets you continue a productive and enjoyable lifestyle.

It is a method backed by science with a long record of a positive outcome. You can learn about the McKenzie Method® by meeting with a McKenzie Institute®- trained physical therapist at The Therapy Network. In addition, read the latest updates by the McKenzie Method® Institute.
Good Morning America describing McKenzie Method Treatment

The McKenzie Method® at The Therapy Network

You may ask, "What is the McKenzie Method®, and how do I learn about it?"  The method is non-invasive and focuses on the need of each patient. Often, the technique helps where other physical therapy methods have not.

Here is a quote from a TTN therapist that specializes in the McKenzie Method®:

"Specializing in the treatment of spinal patients at our Chesapeake office, I received my Certification in McKenzie Method® of Diagnosis and Therapy in 1999 and have been using it to treat spinal cases ever since. I utilize this method because it is patient-driven and exercise-based, backed by research, and incredibly effective. Many of my referrals come from physicians whose patients tried traditional physical therapy (sans-McKenzie) and failed to see improvement.”—Elaine Comer PT

The McKenzie Method® for back pain includes a tailored routine of exercises and stretches that patients can do at home. It is an active therapy method that is cost-effective. Once you learn the technique and the best steps for your diagnosis, you can self-manage the process.

Schedule An Appointment at The Therapy Network Today

Think of the McKenzie Method® as an investment in a pain-free future. If you are ready to learn more, it is time to schedule an appointment at The Therapy Network. Therapy Network is coastal Virginia's leading physical therapy network. Schedule an appointment online or call 757-496-3700. Let us teach you the McKenzie Method® for back pain today.