3 Advantages of IASTM
Part 1 of this post was 2 Myths of IASTM and can be found here. After reading those, you may be thinking, if we do not have to use a lot of force and the changes are neurophysiologic, why should I use tools?
Here are 3 Advantages of IASTM
1) Tone reduction
As detailed in the last post, the rapid changes we make in pain and ROM are due to tone changes from activating mechanoreceptors in the soft tissues and skin. I have not come across any studies on this, but I propose it to those doing research often. It's a quick experiment I do in my soft tissue courses and can be seen here.
Currently, these are just my theories that I try to validate more and more at my courses. It's easy enough to replicate on yourself. Palpate some common TrPs in the upper trap or masseter, they're easy enough to find. Snap them back and forth to get a feel for their size. Then do the same thing with equal pressure and an inanimate object like the EDGE Tool. It is often smaller and more comfortable. The patient can feel the difference, usually more comfortable, and the key is we do not want to cause pain and possibly apprehension leading to central sensitization.
If you can start out with less tone, and reduce it faster using pressure without human touch, you're starting the treatment out 2 steps ahead. I've found over the years it's just faster than doing the same thing with my hands which equals better movement in less time!
2) Saves your hands.
Do you want to have a long career as a manual therapist? Take care of your hands! I started noticing my hands bothering me in my late twenties and thought, I will not be able to do this for a long time if my hands already hurt! The sides/shapes are contoured to different areas; working on bony contours of scapula, larger areas like hamstrings, ITB are all easier with different contours and shapes of a tool.
3) Harnessing patient expectations
If a patient feels that a Tx is going to be beneficial, it will have a greater effect on positive outcomes. I have some patients who do not care whether or not I'm using my hands, wooden, plastic, or steel tools. When I was using prototype plastic EDGILITY tools (soon to be released!) versus my traditional stainless steel tool, some couldn't feel the difference. I had another patient request only the steel tool because she could "feel" the difference. She's also someone who insists I use more force because I had in previous years - I don't though. You can also harness the power of expectation by having great interaction, a positive atmosphere and attitude; you can also use expectation to your advantage by using tools that have a perception of quality and effectiveness.