My name is Dr. Steve Smith and I’m a sports physical therapist and certified strength and conditioning specialist. I’ve been a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization since January 2012 and currently hold the position of major league physical therapist.
Prior to joining the Dodgers, I earned a master’s degree from the The University of Maryland Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science in 2002, followed by a doctoral degree in 2003. I spent the first several years of my career working as a staff physical therapist and clinic director for Physiotherapy Associates in Maryland and Delaware. Then in 2007, my family and I moved to Florida, where I began working for a company called Athletes’ Performance (AP), now known as EXOS.
During my time at AP, I had the opportunity to rehabilitate and train a wide variety of athletes of all ages and skill levels. My main clientele were high-level tactical athletes, collegiate/professional football players and baseball players, but I also worked with soccer, hockey, basketball, rugby, track & field, boxing, and recreational athletes. As a result of this experience, I’ve been invited to present and teach at numerous seminars and courses around the country.
I began utilizing instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) when I started working for AP. I was fortunate to have very knowledgeable colleagues, especially athletic trainer Jeremy Hassler and physical therapist/athletic trainer Dr. Sue Falsone, who taught me how, when, where and why to apply IASTM to my athletes. My initial instruments were nothing more than jade, buffalo horn, and a set of plastic gua sha tools. I then became a certified ASTYM (Augmented Soft Tissue Mobilization) provider and used those tools for the next several years.
But at the beginning of 2014, I decided to explore other alternatives. The fees associated with ASTYM, and Graston for that matter, were too expensive for me to sustain, and I didn’t want to get locked into any multiyear contracts either.
After trying several different tools (including the Edge Tool, Fibroblaster, and Técnica Gávilan set to name a few), I still wasn’t satisfied. As I continued to look for a better option, it seemed like everything I read and everyone I asked all recommended HawkGrips. So after I contacted the HawkGrips team and inquired about their instruments, they sent me a set. From that day forward, I haven’t stopped using HawkGrips. I believe these instruments literally give me an “edge” in my treatments.
I utilize HawkGrips to treat muscle strains, tendinopathies and fibrotic areas with impaired microcirculation, as well as on areas adjacent to injured tissue and for athletic recovery. The players who I treat love and appreciate HawkGrips as much as I do. These unique instruments complement other forms of manual therapy that I provide, including Fascial Stretch Therapy, mobilization and manipulation, dry needling, myofascial release, vacuum therapy, etc. These therapies along with HawkGrips fit nicely into my treatment paradigm, where muscle inhibition and facilitation, building and restoring tissue tolerance, kinetic linking, accelerated healing, and athlete recovery are paramount.
Rising Above the Rest
HawkGrips have addressed all the less-than-optimal issues I found with other tools in the past. The HawkGrips instruments are of the highest quality and have precise edges. My favorite aspect of HawkGrips is the textured cross-hatch gripping, a unique feature that prevents the instruments from slipping out of my hands.
HawkGrips offers a variety of instruments to address different areas of the body. The HG2 “Medium Handlebar” has comfortable handles at both ends to improve grip. It is my “go-to option” when I need to initiate treatment on larger areas of the body, like the anterior or posterior thigh and thorax. For smaller, more specific areas, I utilize the HG7 “Boomerang” or HG8 “Scanner.”
If I need to work on and around bony prominences, like the medial epicondyle of the elbow or the acromion of the shoulder, I use the HG9 “Tongue Depressor.” The HG5 “Medium Multi-Curve” and HG6 “Large Multi-Curve” provide maximal contact area when working on hinged joints or regions with rounded contours like the knee and elbow. If a catcher takes a foul tip off his hand and I need to treat an individual finger, then I reach for the HG4 “Small Multi-Curve.” There’s literally an instrument for every part of the body.
HawkGrips doesn’t just provide great products, but also outstanding customer service. Like the quality of their instruments, their service is second to none. The HawkGrips staff is always courteous, generous, patient and very responsive to all my inquiries. With HawkGrips, there are no hidden fees, no contracts and no nonsense.
My goal in writing this article is to help my colleagues, other therapists, and athletes alike by recommending HawkGrips. I hope those who are reading go directly to HawkGrips and get the instruments they need to improve their treatments. It’s my belief that HawkGrips are the best IASTM products on the market. Thanks for reading!
Dr. Steve Smith is the major league physical therapist for the Los Angeles Dodgers and has also treated high-level tactical athletes as well as professional football players. This article was originally written in 2016.
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...
“Tennis elbow,” a diagnosis that strikes fear into the hearts of clinicians the world over! (OK… that may be a slight overstatement). Why is this condition so dreaded? Because when treating tennis elbow, everything works and nothing works. Tennis elbow is one of the most commonly diagnosed and discussed musculoskeletal conditions known to humankind. An article by Arnett et al. on the evaluation and treatment of lateral epicondylitis reported a 2-percent incidence in the general population, with a significantly higher rate among manual laborers.
Although I’m a certified athletic trainer, it’s rare that I seek any type of physical treatment for myself. There are many reasons, but mostly I just feel bad about asking fellow clinicians to treat me when I know they’ve already been treating patients all day. Recently though, something wonderful happened. I asked Mark Shires, MS, ATC, PES, to treat my left shoulder and neck because of tension headaches I’ve been experiencing and he said yes!
British Physiotherapist Applauds the Transformative Impact of HawkGrips on His Patients and Practice
As a physiotherapist, I have been using HawkGrips for more than six months now and they are by far the best investment I’ve made for my work and business. Patients love these instruments and the outcomes they produce. Utilizing HawkGrips for instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) has transformed my clinic into a desirable place to receive physiotherapy. Not only do patients enjoy the treatment itself, but also the quick and effective results. My patients with soft-tissue injuries have found…
How Physical Therapist and HawkGrips Instructor Dr. Lindsay Becker Launched a Pioneering Private Practice Geared Toward Golfers
There are many telltale harbingers of spring, from warmer temperatures to longer days, chirping birds and blooming trees. But for golf enthusiasts, the most compelling sign winter has mercifully ended is the iconic Masters Tournament. Hosted annually by majestic Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, the Masters tees off this week amid great fanfare as the world’s best golfers compete for the coveted green jacket. The start of the Masters also symbolizes that the busy season is underway for Dr. Lindsay Becker…
HawkGrips in the United Kingdom: Physiquipe Coordinates an IASTM Introductory Workshop at Leeds Beckett University
Last month, the student became the teacher when I had an opportunity to return to my alma mater, Leeds Beckett University in the United Kingdom, and instruct an instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) workshop for third-year students. Physiquipe, the official United Kingdom distributor for HawkGrips, collaborates with universities to offer students the ability to gain continuing professional development hours on IASTM. This experience not only improves their curriculum vitae, but also…