Instrument-Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM)

Our chiropractors are trained in many approaches for soft tissue therapies.  One of them utilizes specific stainless-steel or ceramic instruments for the treatment of muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, and nerves. Special tools are used in an approach called instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization, or IASTM for short. IASTM therapeutically restores proper range of motion and soft tissue health back to the body.

Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization often feels like a focused scraping massage to a targeted region that helps break up chronic inflammation and muscle adhesions to the area being treated. The scraping sensation combines the right amount of friction with pressure to help the body move and function more properly.

Like other treatments, IASTM is another tool in the treatment toolbox that can be used to help treat a patient’s soft tissue fibrosis, inflammation, and restrictions to a body part or joint.  Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization treats scars, painful ranges of motion, muscle adhesions, joint restrictions, and many more.

How does instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization work?

Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization works by gently and directly scraping the skin using a specialized tool made of ceramic or metal. The tools come in a variety of shapes and sizes to target many different areas of the body!

A doctor trained in instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization can choose the appropriate tool for almost any area of the body. From there, the tool is placed directly on the skin and dragged repeatedly with gentle pressure in a scraping action over the affected tissues.

The direction and amount of pressure will vary depending on the extent of injury to the muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, and nerves. 


Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization:

  • Decreases overall time of treatment
  • Allows faster rehabilitation/recovery
  • Reduces need for anti-inflammatory medication
  • Resolves chronic conditions thought to be permanent
  • Clients can continue to engage in everyday activities
  • Applied specifically to your painful range of motion


The scraping mechanism isn’t enough to break the skin or cause damage. Instead, the tool is held with an appropriate manual pressure by the treating doctor over a region of the body. The combination of the tool and gentle pressure, repeatedly applied over the skin in short or long strokes, helps increase blood flow and stimulate healing.  

Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization sounds very simple, and it is! However, IASTM cannot be used skillfully without a deep mastery and understanding of the muscles, fascia, tendons, ligaments, and nerves being treated. IASTM is a type of myofascial release, meaning that it enhances the flexibility of the soft tissues located underneath the treated area.

IASTM interrupts pain receptors, improves the health of the underlying tissue, and reduces fibrosis, or adhesions, within the muscle and fascia. Understanding the exact nature of the underlying tissue is where instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization has a complexity that makes it a valuable tool to health when used by skilled hands. 

Lake Effect Chiropractic utilizes IASTM to restore proper motion and improve functioning to the body. Using a musculoskeletal tool can be very effective to enhance soft tissue texture and reduce tightness to the muscles, fascia, ligaments, nerves, and tendons. This works in combination with many other treatment modalities provided to our patients to eliminate pain and musculoskeletal dysfunction.

Who can benefit from instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization?

Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization is just one tool of many used at Lake Effect Chiropractic. Having many approaches to improve aches, pains, muscles, and joint dysfunction will yield the best outcomes possible for our patients, for a variety of conditions!  In our clinic, every treatment plan is unique and specifically tailored to what a person needs. 

In some instances, a patient may or may not be a great candidate for IASTM. Because this myofascial modality does involve the application of repeated pressure over a region, it may not be the right treatment for a patient in the Bay Area if there is a lot of swelling, broken skin, inflammation, delicate skin, active fractures or broken bones, blood disorders, or side effects from certain medications. It is important to discuss your personal medical history with our team to determine if IASTM is the right approach to benefit your care.

Our team at Lake Effect Chiropractic utilizes IASTM to help patients reduce pain and restore motion to any regions of pain, joint dysfunction, limited function, or decreased range of motion. 

What conditions can instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization help?

Our trained and experienced chiropractors use instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization for a variety of patients.  Many muscle and joint conditions benefit from a skilled practitioner utilizing IASTM care in a treatment plan.  Adding IASTM to a treatment plan can encourage faster rehabilitation and recovery while also reducing pain.


Some examples include:

… and more!


The result is a more flexible area of the body that has less pain and better movement. The improvement is sometimes felt immediately, or it may take several sessions depending on the extent of the injury being treated. If the tissue texture is very dense or tight, a pain-relieving cream may also be used to improve the instrument gliding over the skin.

If you’re in the Tri City Area and interested in learning more about instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization, give us a call!  We would love for you to speak to our team or visit our office to determine if this soft tissue treatment approach is right for you. 

What Our Patients Are Saying

"I had to find a new chiropractor. So I checked google and looked at the reviews. Lake Effect had the best overall rating. I made an appointment and they also except my insurance which is always a plus! Brittany is the person I see that adjusts me. She is very good at her job and informative. The staff is very friendly. It’s an overall great place to go for your chiropractic needs. I highly recommend Lake Effect Chiropractic!"

-Jacob from Bay City, MI

"Such a nice environment! They are really friendly and even have a office pup!!! My chiropractor Brittany gave me a tour and even walked through everything which was very helpful considering I’ve never been to one. My upper back has been improving immensely and even the way I work. If you work factory life like I do, please go to them!"

-Ashley from Essexville, MI