Q&A: Functional Release vs IASTM | Modern Manual Therapy Blog

Q&A: Functional Release vs IASTM

I had a few recent requests on the FB page to list why I would choose Functional Release or IASTM.

Functional Release


  • able to isolate various areas of the tissues you are working on
  • movement based, usually using AROM or AAROM, thus the patient has a measure of control over the technique and may move to their tolerance
  • often releases faster than IASTM, but is more aggressive
  • able to combine treatments like functional release and neurodynamic movements
  • not able to release superficially
  • hard on your hands
  • easier on your hands
  • able to release superficially, and be very light and progress your depth accordingly
  • able to release around bony contours better, i.e. metacarpals, scapula, iliac crests
  • also able to combine easily with neurodynamics, place the nerve on tension, treat the neural container as a progression
  • have to use a lubricant, pt may be allergic
  • causes discoloration or ecchymosis more than FR, most likely due to the repetitive nature of "scraping" treatments
  • instruments or tools often look intimidating
General STM advantages
  • can work around areas immediately after surgery
  • less contraindications - works well to promote tissue health around areas that may have instability
    • example: previous pt had transverse ligament laxity, but also cervicogenic HA, light STM to around the area plus deep cervical flexor strengthening kept HA in check (ex only did not)
  • may still use pts with questionable bony integrity or even areas that have fused naturally 

There are more! Feel free to add in the comments!

1 comment:

  1. "instruments or tools often look intimidating"

    ...and to some patients they look awesome!