Physiology of IASTM

The human skin is the the largest organ of the integumentary system. It is enriched with dense neurological tissue that permeates the entire body and provides a uniquely accessible means of influencing tone and function of underlying structures. Fascia and muscle generate and transfer kinetic energy in an environment by which functional movement relies on a combination of elastic recoil and eccentric control around a focal, multi-planar axis. Length-tension ratios affect mechanical form and function where postural context and joint position dictate either a compressed or lengthened condition under load.

Discrepancies in muscular tone, whether facilitated or inhibited, exhibit the potential to increase risk of injury or limit activity secondary to pain.

The cross-hatch grip surface and stainless steel material make HawkGrips the ideal instruments to use when working with the athletic population, particularly bodybuilders due to their overall size and muscle density. Other instruments with blunt or overly aggressive edges lack the capacity to accurately assess and address myofascial restrictions with the same level of efficacy.

 

The cross-hatch grip surface and stainless steel material make HawkGrips the ideal instruments to use when working with the athletic population, particularly bodybuilders due to their overall size and muscle density. Other instruments with blunt or overly aggressive edges lack the capacity to accurately assess and address myofascial restrictions with the same level of efficacy.

The IASTM modality elicits a powerful neurologic response through manipulation of superficial lymphatic, vascular, and sensorimotor structures. This creates a critical window of opportunity for clinicians to implement movement remediation strategies in order to foster meaningful improvements in mobility and function.

Applying sustained pressure to facilitated or hypertonic musculature causes an inhibitory effect through stimulation of Ruffini nerve endings and interstitial receptors in the skin, permitting less restricted, normalized movement to occur. Conversely, rapid, oscillating movements elicit a more facilitatory effect, consequently  increasing muscle tone.

Clinical Application (in a bodybuilding population)

When used in conjunction with postural alignment exercises, manual techniques such as instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization [IASTM] have the capacity to enhance functional mobility and performance in competitive athletes.  

IASTM is a unique treatment modality used to influence neuromuscular tone and plasticity through superficial manipulation of fascial sheaths and tonic musculature. The clinical benefits include increased range of motion, decreased pain, and improved proprioception.  

One of Dr. Paul’s patients, a bodybuilder, after treatment with HawkGrips.

Within the context of competitive bodybuilding, improvements in functional mobility ultimately translate to enhanced stage presentation and aesthetic quality of skeletal muscle. For both professional and amateur competitors, contest preparation entails regimented training protocols designed to sustain deliberate hypertrophic changes geared towards maximal muscular development and structural proportion. Attributes such as muscle separation, fullness, and symmetry are fundamental aspects of stage presentation. It is crucial that competitors maintain a healthy capacity for controlled, purposeful movement throughout months of rigorous training and nutritional planning. By reducing myofascial restrictions, improving range of motion, and increasing vascular perfusion, IASTM effectively expedites post-training recovery, thereby enhancing athletic performance while mitigating risk for injury. Improvements in functional mobility are further compounded by increased collagen synthesis and regeneration of otherwise oxygen deprived soft tissue structures. Increased vascular perfusion and collagen fiber organization also contribute to enhanced muscle mass and tissue extensibility. Anecdotal reports often allude to the proverbial “pump” as being noticeably intensified during training sessions after receiving IASTM treatment.

HawkGrips vs. Other Instruments

When it comes to selecting the ideal IASTM tool(s), weight, tissue resonance, and comfort are the most important factors to consider. HawkGrips instruments boast a durable, ergonomic design with precision beveled edges, perfectly contoured for multiple surfaces. The cross hatched grip surface and stainless steel material make HawkGrips the ideal instruments to use when working with the athletic population, particularly bodybuilders due to their overall size and muscle density. Other instruments with blunt or overly aggressive edges lack the capacity to accurately assess and address myofascial restrictions with the same level of efficacy.

The design properties of HawkGrips instruments also exhibit benefits to the clinician, ensuring professional longevity by reducing the impact of repetitive stress to the upper extremity. Hawkgrips instruments adequately and appropriately transmit applied forces to treatment surfaces, without necessitating modifications to treatment technique. Acute responsiveness to variances in manual pressure prevent against biomechanical overload to the hand, wrist, and carpometacarpal (CMC) joint.

Dr. Stefan Paul is a Physical Therapist, working in the tri-state area of New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut. He specializes in performance recovery and rehabilitation for professional and recreational athletes. 

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