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  • Dr. Brandon Davy

What is instrument assisted soft tissue therapy?

Instrument assisted soft tissue therapy (IASTT) is a popular treatment for myofascial restriction. IASTT uses specially designed, stainless steel instruments to provide a mobilizing effect to scar tissue and myofascial adhesions. The goal of IASTT is to decrease pain and improve range of motion and function of the soft tissue.

The use of IASTT is said to provide an advantage to the tissues by allowing for deeper penetration and more targeted treatments to injured areas.

After an injury, inflammation and regeneration of new cells occurs, often developing into scar tissue in the injured area. This scar tissue reduces tissue elasticity and causes a build-up of adhesions in the muscle, which reduces function and range of motion and can cause pain.

The developed scar tissue reduces the supply of oxygen and nutrients that are able to get to the tissue for proper healing to occur. This may trigger incomplete functional recovery and increase the risk of re-injury.

IASTT treatment is thought to stimulate the remodelling of connective tissue, along with the repair and regeneration of collagen in the area. This results in the breakdown of the scar tissue that has developed as well as the breakdown of adhesions and fascial restrictions in the muscle. The biggest goal of IASTT is to remove scar tissues.

IASTT can help shorten the rehabilitation period and time to return to normal functioning. The tools used cause microtrauma to the area, which allows for increased blood flow and nutrients to come to the area to speed healing. IASTT has another advantage of being able to produce these effects faster than traditional friction massage.

One of the most common IASTT techniques that you may have heard of is the Graston® technique. IASTT is a technique that I like to use on patients to help with soft tissue injures of tendons or ligaments!

If you have more questions about IASTT or have a soft tissue injury that you think would benefit from this treatment, contact me or book an appointment today!


Cheatham, Scott W et al. “The efficacy of instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization: a systematic review.” The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association vol. 60,3 (2016): 200-211.

Kim, Jooyoung et al. “Therapeutic effectiveness of instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization for soft tissue injury: mechanisms and practical application.” Journal of exercise rehabilitation vol. 13,1 12-22. 28 Feb. 2017, doi:10.12965/jer.1732824.412

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