By Miami Beach Chiropractor - Chiropractic Sports Medicine Specialist Dr. Todd Narson
Graston Technique®, ASTYM, FAKTR, SASTM, Gua Sha and others are all forms of IASTM (Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization). The purpose of which is to break down scar tissue and adhesions that are causing multi-layered soft tissue restriction and adversely affecting the dynamic function of the underlying muscles, tendons, fascia, ligaments, etc. There are some minor difference between the techniques however ultimately, all are effective. However effectiveness doesn't depend so much on the original coursework or specific technique, but the experience of the practitioner.
One thing I want to "get off my chest" is that Graston Technique® & ASTYM aren't new techniques. Your doctor or therapist may have just learned it and is all excited about it, but these techniques have been around for over 20 years with the original research being done at Ball State University. Gua Sha dates back to the 5th &; 7th centuries( roughly 700-BC to 500-AD). FAKTR & SASTM have been around since the mid to early 2000s.
Another thing is that IASTM techniques are not simply the use of instruments to loosen or remove adhesions, but it’s the follow up treatment, stretching, therapies, rehab & anti-inflammatory nutrition that completes the techniques. Otherwise, you're simply doing Gua-Sha/Instrument Massage.
Having become certified in Graston Technique® M1 & M2 in 2002 and several years ago, trained in FAKTR-PM (now known simply as FAKTR), 10 years of the last 20 years using IASTM full time in my practice, weekend excursions as a member of the sports medicine team at local sporting events, a 10 day rotation at the 2006 Central American & All Caribbean Games and at the 2011 Pan American Games, all gives me a unique experience and perspective in the practical application of IASTM. You’ll find many others with varied but similar experience.
Some of the most important factors for providing good IASTM are:
1. A good physical exam
2. Sports specific examination of their injury
3. Creativity -Thinking outside the box (and sometimes outside the walls of your clinic)
|US Patient Pending-N6 Narson Body Mechanic|
As a result of my experience with Graston Technique®, FAKTR and IASTM in general, I developed my own instrument design known as the Narson Body Mechanic N6. The design is now patented in Canada and we are currently “patent pending” here in the US and expecting the patent within the next few months. The reason I designed this instrument was out of my constant need to be more efficient. The design affords me the ability to carry all of the most useful IASTM instruments with me in one convenient tool. No longer do I have to carry a kit of tools with me. No longer do I have to clean multiple instruments between patients. I have everything in one hand at all times. I’ve added a non-slip gripping surface which reduces tool slippage and reduces finger/hand fatigue which, the longer you do IASTM with real stainless steel instruments, you’ll come to appreciate. The other thing most of us in the USA can appreciate is that it’s the only “multi-tool” for IASTM that is made from 100% U.S. steel and made 100% by hand right here in the U.S.A.
But when it comes to giving effective IASTM, the most important thing to remember is after a good base education, it’s the wealth of experience along with the doctor’s (or therapist) ability to be creative. From my experience, it's thinking outside the box that matters most. Couple that with a good nutrition plan, rehab and anti-inflammatory therapies and the results will astound you. It’s very possible with IASTM to take long time chronic injuries-treat them with IASTM and have the athlete back out playing the same day or the next day.
This year I have helped 2 triathletes get back into their training to complete in their first Ironman triathlon, 3 people are back training to complete 26.2 distance marathons, 10 people back into running half marathons, 70.3 distance Half Ironman, and dozens back to competing in sprint and Olympic distance triathlons. Those are just the athlete patients.
Often you’ll find me at the pool, the track or simply running on the sidewalk with a patient working with them while they do their sport. For me, it’s sometimes the only way to resolve an athlete’s problem. Just like anything else in life, experience matters. Even with IASTM.
© 2012 Todd M. Narson, DC, DACBSP, ICSSD
Dr. Narson is a 2-term past president of the Florida Chiropractic Association’s Council on Sports Injuries, Physical Fitness & Rehabilitation and was honored as the recipient of the coveted Chiropractic Sports Physician of the Year Award in 1999-2000. He practices in Miami Beach, Florida at the Miami Beach Family & Sports Chiropractic Center; A Facility for Natural Sports Medicine.