[00:00:00] Sherman Hu: Welcome back to another podcast powered by ALTUS Chiro and Physio. I have the wonderful Dr. Trang Luu Grover here with me.
[00:00:09] Dr. Trang Luu Grover: Hi!
What is Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM)?
[00:00:10] Sherman Hu: Hey, we’re going to talk about something cool and very ninja.
[00:00:15] And it’s a topic called Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization. Acronym is IASTM.
[00:00:23] So what is Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization?
[00:00:29] Dr. Trang Luu Grover: Yeah. So Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization, also known as IASTM, is a technique that involves using a set of handheld instruments that’s used to scrape or apply gentle pressure to the individual’s muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves, and fascia. And here in the office, we do offer this specific technique.
[00:00:52] A few of our practitioners are trained in the office, including myself, to use this technique. And so [00:01:00] I have a few here that I can show to the audience.
[00:01:03] Sherman Hu: You see why I now call it ninja? Because it’s like “don’t mess with Mama when I’m holding these tools.”
[00:01:11] Dr. Trang Luu Grover: It actually originated or evolved from a traditional Chinese medicine method called Gua Sha. And so Gua Sha, the instrument is slightly different. The edges are a little bit smoother, but similar method where it is applied to the area. Sort of the area that’s painful.
[00:01:29] So the instrument looked different, but also the rationale and the goal behind why they’re being used is also different as well.
What does IASTM do?
[00:01:37] Sherman Hu: So Trang, what does it do? What does IASTM actually do?
[00:01:41] Dr. Trang Luu Grover: Yeah. That’s a really good question. So IASTM is used to break down scar tissue and fascial restrictions in the soft tissue. As I mentioned, the muscle, tendon, joints, nerves, and the fascia itself, and helps to allow [00:02:00] faster pain relief and improve mobility and quicker rehabilitation and recovery.
How is IASTM applied?
[00:02:07] Sherman Hu: How is it applied? Just on certain parts that have additional scarring?
[00:02:12] Dr. Trang Luu Grover: I’ll demonstrate it on myself. So you can use it anywhere in the body. Forearm, I’ll use as an example. Just because it’s easy to see it there. So these instruments here, I only grabbed two. We’ve got a set of them. So depending on where you’re working on. If it’s a bigger group of muscles, such as the quads, the glutes, then we use the instrument that’s a little bit bigger.
[00:02:36] So this one is probably best for somewhere like your forearm. So first, I used a little bit of application, so you can use lotion. We’ve got some P3 here. Just so that when you’re applying it, it’s comfortable for the patient, and then when you’re applying it, it gives it a nice, smooth glide, so apply a little bit.
[00:02:56] And then I like to [00:03:00] check in on the patient. So you apply for about 30 seconds. It’ll create a little bit of a red response. You can’t really see it there, but so maybe you would move a little bit closer. So you do get a little bit of red response and we want it to change in color because we want to create a little bit of inflammation to the area. And that helps to promote the healing and the recovery process. And so 30 seconds or so I check in, you don’t want it to be like a dark red color, just a little bit of pink color and we call it the petechiae.
[00:03:35] Sherman Hu: What do you call that again?
[00:03:35] Dr. Trang Luu Grover: Petechiae. It’s just a medical term that when you’re scraping on the area, it creates a little bit of an inflammatory response to the area.
[00:03:45] Sherman Hu: I love this one because this looks like a ninja tool. And then the other one I have in mind is like a butter knife, the other one’s like the butter knife.
[00:03:53] Dr. Trang Luu Grover: Oh yeah. So this one, the edges are all quite unique. Like this one has a little bit
[00:03:58] Sherman Hu: Like a beard shaving [00:04:00] tool.
[00:04:01] Dr. Trang Luu Grover: Yeah, totally. So this one, you can use it on this edge and then this part here, depending on sort of which area we’re working on. Like this one back to this one, the smaller pointy end. You can use it for hands, so smaller areas to really get into those areas that the scar tissues are hiding underneath.
When to use IASTM?
[00:04:22] Sherman Hu: Okay. When would this technique be used?
[00:04:26] Dr. Trang Luu Grover: When would it be used?
[00:04:27] Sherman Hu: Yeah. When would somebody want this technique?
[00:04:30] Dr. Trang Luu Grover: Yeah. So for most of our patients, as I mentioned already, excessive scar tissue anywhere where there’s tendinitis, tendinopathy, Achilles tendinitis, which is more down towards your ankles. You can use it anywhere in the body. Common one that I find and I get a lot of really good results from is tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow.
[00:04:53] So what I was doing there on the elbow, we’ve got tennis elbow and then golfer elbow will focus more on the inside part.
[00:04:59] [00:05:00] And then a lot of runners that come in with IT band pain. So IT band runs along the side of your leg. And so because of that repetitive movement that these individuals do every day, it creates a sort of micro injury to the area.
[00:05:18] And so things such as those types of conditions would be appropriate for IASTM to be used.
Before using the IASTM technique
[00:05:25] Sherman Hu: Okay. That’s great. Now, can anyone call in and request for this kind of treatment type?
[00:05:32] Dr. Trang Luu Grover: Yeah. So absolutely anyone can call in and request for this type of technique. So what we do here in the office is we book everyone for an initial assessment first, and then the practitioner would then sort of evaluate and see if this person is a good candidate for a specific technique like this.
[00:05:55] And if we recognize that the individual is not going to benefit from [00:06:00] IASTM, then the practitioner would then give alternatives or provide maybe a different option for the patient or refer them out to a different healthcare provider.
[00:06:09] Yes, you can, but we would have to go through the assessment first to make sure that you’re good candidate.
IASTM versus Shockwave Comparison
[00:06:15] Sherman Hu: Hey, I’m just very curious, Trang, how would you compare, in your own personal experience, IASTM versus, let’s say, shockwave?
[00:06:27] Dr. Trang Luu Grover: Ah, okay. So personally, I would say that based on my experience, shockwave therapy, I find it really beneficial for chronic type of conditions.
[00:06:39] And so I’ve seen that people tend to respond better, for example, plantar fasciitis. And so certain conditions do respond better with certain therapies based on my experience. So for IASTM, tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, very effective. And even like those chronic tension, upper back tension or [00:07:00] neck tension, chronic headaches.
[00:07:02] I find IASTM really beneficial. And then for shockwave therapy, plantar fasciitis is what I’ve found is very beneficial. So they’re both really good. And it just depends on the condition.
Case Study: A customer suffering from tennis elbow for years
[00:07:14] Sherman Hu: If you could relay one client’s story with you using IASTM on them, what was their situation? What was the recovery like or the journey of treatment like, without mentioning names, of course.
[00:07:28] Dr. Trang Luu Grover: Oh, okay. So use a tennis elbow, for example, because I see a lot of that. So a patient comes in and they’ve got tennis elbow. I would say based on my experience. So the technique itself, not just using the instrument to scrape the area, but we also give follow-up exercises for patients to do at home. So if they are not complying to the recommendations that we’re [00:08:00] giving to them at home, it really doesn’t make it that beneficial.
[00:08:04] So there are exercises that we give for patients to do at home. So he was suffering from tennis elbow for like years. And so we were able to get him better. I think it was like eight to twelve visits and they’re weeks apart.
[00:08:24] They’re not like every day he comes in. So we started him off with two days a week coming in for the treatment. And so that would be two days a week for four weeks. And that’s a total of eight weeks. After that I reassessed where he’s at. And I think it was about one or two months, roughly eight to twelve visits that he was able to get back to doing what he likes without having to feel any pain or discomfort.
[00:08:52] And so that’s one case I can think of right now. And then of course those exercises that he would have to do at home to [00:09:00] continue with it. And then every once in a while he gets a bit of a flare up then that’s okay. He’ll come in and book an appointment once every few months or when he feels like, okay, maybe it’s a heavy lifting day.
[00:09:10] He’s an athlete. Heavy lifting day or heavy lifting week then he’ll come in a little bit sooner.
[00:09:15] Sherman Hu: That’s great. It’s good to know. Cause I was going to ask you if he was a tennis player or there, but you just mentioned he’s in a gym or powerlifter?
[00:09:25] Dr. Trang Luu Grover: Powerlifter. Yes. Yeah, not professionally, but he does it.
The goal is not just to get better but also to be independent and proactive about one’s health
[00:09:29] Sherman Hu: So what you’re saying is if we’re bad students and don’t do our homework, the pain will prolong?
[00:09:36] Dr. Trang Luu Grover: Pretty much. Yeah. So I think for at least how I practice and I know other chiropractors, they might practice differently, but here in our office, we want to make sure the patients, like our goal is obviously to get the patient better, but we want them to be independent and proactive about their health.
[00:09:55] Don’t wait for things to break down for you to do something about it, right? [00:10:00] So we want to encourage people to, if you’re already feeling good, you maintain feeling good, you maintain the strength and stay strong. So that’s our philosophy here.
[00:10:08] Sherman Hu: That’s great. That’s great. For those that do not know Trang and wonder why at times during this podcast, she almost sounded like she’s out of breath. It’s because she is expecting,
[00:10:25] and this is her final episode before she delivers a baby. So she would be a different and whole new brand new woman the next time you see her on the podcast. Congratulations!
[00:10:41] Dr. Trang Luu Grover: Thank you so much. Thanks for your time.
[00:10:43] Sherman Hu: Thanks folks for tuning in to today’s podcast with Dr. Trang Luu Grover and we spoke about IASTM. Stay tuned for next week’s episode. As we cover more chiropractic and physiotherapy topics with ALTUS Chiropractic and Physiotherapy. [00:11:00]
[00:11:00] Dr. Trang Luu Grover: Thank you.