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.

Los Angeles Dodgers Major League Baseball HawkGrips physical therapist Dr. Steve Smith

HawkGrips are utilized throughout Major League Baseball and have a passionate advocate in Los Angeles Dodgers Physical Therapist Dr. Steve Smith, the author of this article.

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.

Exploring Alternatives

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.

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