The premise of instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) is, at most, a highly advanced concept, demanding background knowledge of applied anatomy and physiology. At the least, IASTM is deep tissue massage. I consider myself a relative expert on trying to explain IASTM and HawkGrips after doing just that with numerous family members, friends, and complete strangers since becoming the director of education at HawkGrips. And I’m willing to share my extensive, expert knowledge with you, lucky duck!

IASTM instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization HawkGrips massage

IASTM is a form of deep-tissue massage that potentially accelerates healing and restores function.

IASTM is a form of deep tissue massage that potentially accelerates healing and restores function. It is believed that IASTM restores function by remodeling soft tissue at the cellular level through a process called mechanotransduction. After IASTM, we incorporate rehabilitative exercises to encourage this new tissue being built to lay down the way it’s supposed to, in neat, straight lines.

What should I expect from a treatment with HawkGrips Therapy?

The instruments glide over the skin and “catch” on scar tissue. A patient may feel a vibration or “crunchy” feeling when the instrument goes over areas of adhesion. The entire treatment of one body area should not take longer than 10 minutes. Each specific lesion is treated for only 30-90 seconds.

The treatment should never be painful but sometimes mild discomfort is felt. As a patient, please be sure to let your clinician know if the treatment is too painful.

IASTM is best used in conjunction with a rehabilitation protocol that incorporates stretching and strengthening. Your clinician will most likely have you perform corrective, stretching, and/or strengthening exercises after the HawkGrips Therapy. It’s important to adhere to any home stretching and/or exercise program your clinician may ask you to complete in order to maximize beneficial results.

Positive Outcomes

Some potential positive outcomes from IASTM include, but are not limited to:

  • Increased range of motion
  • Increased blood flow
  • Decreased pain

Many patients experience long-term relief from the following injuries after treatment with IASTM:

  • Carpal tunnel
  • Low-back pain
  • Tendinopathy
  • Trigger thumb
  • Tennis/golfer’s elbow
  • Chronic ankle pain
  • Plantar fasciitis
Possible Side Effects

IASTM employs fluid motions of the instruments on the patient’s skin, typically eliciting redness. In extreme cases, bruising may occur. However, bruising is not the main goal of this treatment nor should it occur after the majority of treatments. A treatment may yield petechiae, or broken capillaries seen as tiny bright red dots on the skin. This is a sign that the treatment should stop before bruising occurs.

Mild soreness is not uncommon for 1-3 days after a treatment occurs. Please advise patients to contact their clinician/physician if this soreness does not resolve or worsens within this time frame. Keep in mind that IASTM isn’t for everyone. Some patients may be hypersensitive (which is a relative contraindication) and not able to tolerate the use of instruments.

* Interested in receiving this amazing treatment? Check out our Locate a Provider page to find a clinician near you who is utilizing HawkGrips!

Trista Barish is the director of education at HawkGrips and can be reached at

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