Instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization, or IASTM for short, is a specialized treatment technique used by physical therapists to help treat and prevent persistent soft-tissue restrictions caused by repetitive motion and overuse. The treatments (also referred to as Graston or ASTYM) involve using beveled stainless steel or plastic/composite tools to locate abnormal soft-tissues, usually a tight muscle, scarring or a restricted joint. These areas are where adhesions and scar tissue typically develop and the application of IASTM is used to “scape” or break up this abnormal tissue and create minor inflammation to further promote the proliferation of new cells to create fresh and healthy tissue.

Studies have shown that IASTM to be effective and a great substitute for other, more invasive, treatments for soft tissue and joint problems such as injections. Many soft tissue mobilizations and techniques have been trademarked such as ASTYM, which uses plastic, patented edge tools that requires certification to administer and Graston Technique which uses a more aggressive approach using stainless steel tools with patented edges. All of these techniques are based on the same concept of trying to mobilize tissue, prevent restrictions, and treat chronic and acute injuries.

IASTM can be used specifically on runners in the sense that runners often end up with injuries that restrict normal tissue mobility. Ideally, layers of muscle and fascia should glide over one another as they move through a range of motion or contract. When this doesn’t happen, it is termed a “soft-tissue restriction”. This lack of mobility often causes pain and inability to run with proper form. Common examples include plantar fasciitis, achilles tendonitis, chronic, tight calf muscles, illiotibial band syndrome (ITB), and hamstring strains. The IASTM technique can be used to break up the adhesions between the tissue layers and bring blood flow to the affected area, aiding to recovery time and preventing risk of re-injury in the future. The treatment is often intense at the time of administration but it is usually very quick and very effective if followed by stretching and strengthening in new, more optimal movement patterns. Additionally, and most importantly, activity is encouraged during and between treatments. Therefore, continuing your training is encouraged while undergoing IASTYM treatment.

Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapists are heavily involved in the running community and many will be side-by-side with you running this year’s Phoenix-Mesa Marathon. Visit our website to schedule a FREE Rapid Recovery Injury Assessment.

As you’re training for the upcoming Mesa-PHX Marathon, you may develop overuse injuries, which are common for long-distance runners. These injuries can occur from muscle imbalances, increasing your training volume too quickly, and lack of stretching appropriately. Common overuse injuries from running include IT band syndrome, patellofemoral knee pain, Achilles tendinitis, and plantar fasciitis. One treatment physical therapists use to help you recover from overuse injuries, so that you stay on track for your marathon training program is cupping.

Cupping is an ancient practice that has been used in multiple settings to improve well-being. The process involves placing suction cups on the skin for several minutes. The cup sizes, cupping time, and movement of the cups can be manipulated in multiple different ways by physical therapist to address pain management, blood flow, muscle relaxation, and myofascial mobility.

The physical therapist will apply lotion on the target tissue and place a suction cup on it. The vacuum effect, in most cases, is created by a hand pump. The vacuum created in the cup draws blood flow to this target area for several minutes. After several minutes of cup manipulation, the cup is then removed by the physical therapist. By bringing blood flow to the area being cupped, it sends oxygen and nutrients to the area to promote tissue extensibility and relaxation. If you and your physical therapist decide that cupping is for you expect to have mild bruising after sessions. Bruising is expected to go away after several days but the long-term benefits make the short-term bruises well worth it.

If you’re interested in adding cupping to your marathon routine, contact any of our 22 Arizona locations today to set up an appointment. We understand what it takes to train for a marathon, and we’ll do our best to safely get you to the finish line.

Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy is a proud sponsor of the 2018 Mesa-PHX Marathon. We’ll be set up the day of the marathon in the Runner Recovery tents to help ease any aches and pains after the race.

Ramping up your mileage as you train for the Mesa-PHX Marathon? As you progress through your training, you may begin to notice pain, weakness, or fatigue that’s limiting your workout. Overuse injuries are often ignored by athletes, marathon runners and even weekend warriors, but if you ignore them for too long, they can lead to a halt in your running—and even prevent you from completing your goal of running a marathon.

At Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy, we treat an array of runners to assist with overuse injuries. One approach, that’s growing with popularity, is trigger point dry needling (TDN). This treatment is used to treat myofascial trigger points which are hypersensitive taut palpable bands of muscle tissue. In addition to these bands of tissue being painful, they also cause restricted range of motion and decreased muscle performance.

Dry needling is performed by inserting a thin, sterile, filiform needle through the surface of the skin into the muscle tissue. Once the needle is inserted the therapist may use a fanning technique (dynamic needling) or leave the needle in the same location for several minutes (static needling).

There are several mechanisms by which TDN provides pain relief. One way that TDN works is by causing a local twitch response (LTR) of the trigger point, promoting relaxation of the taut band. In addition to the LTR, the pin prick of the needle causes the body’s natural pain relievers to be released by the brain and spinal cord, it also stimulates deep blood flow to the muscle which promotes healing, and decreases local inflammatory mediators.

All of these mechanisms allow you to recover quickly from your overuse injury and continue your marathon training program. Interested in learning more about dry needling? Contact us today to set up a Rapid Recovery Free Injury Assessment where you’ll meet one-on-one to discuss your concerns with a licensed physical therapist. Many of our therapists are passionate about running, so we’ll do our part to get you safely to the Mesa-PHX Marathon race line. I’m currently training for the Mesa-PHX half marathon and it will be my 18th half marathon race.

Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy is a proud sponsor of the 2018 Mesa-PHX Marathon. We’ll be set up the day of the marathon in the Runner Recovery tents to help ease any aches and pains after the race.