Hands-On Gentle Touch
Fascia is all the soft fibrous connective tissues in the human body. Initially, fascia was just thought of as the body’s packing material, however research is discovering it does a huge number of jobs in the body. So, healthy fascia is fundamental for a healthy body!
Fascia connects the entire body; it connects from under our skin right down to each individual cell wall. It surrounds and protects muscles (myofascia is the connective tissues within muscles), bones, organs and creates a body-wide network. Myofascial release is a form of soft tissue mobilisation to help reduce pain and increase movement by releasing restrictions in the body’s connective tissue web. It is a safe, effective, gentle hands-on technique that is supported by a wealth of theory and research.
When healthy, fascia is filled with fluid. This allows neighbouring areas to glide alongside each other, while allowing them to work independently and do their own job.
Fascia can be affected by various things, e.g. a fall, long term inflammation, scarring, surgical adhesions. This can cause the fascia to change shape, reduce fluidity and become restricted. The body adapts around these restrictions and this, in turn, causes pain and reduced movement.
Regardless if you are from the sports, athletic or performance field, or whether you have chronic and persistent pain, each treatment will be unique as your therapist assesses for adaptations and restrictions in your body. Your therapist will then use very gentle hands (often through clothing) to feel into and unwind these areas.
Instrumented Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilisation IASTM
Instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) is a skilled myofascial intervention used for soft-tissue treatment.
It is applied using instruments that are usually made of stainless steel with bevelled edges and contours that can conform to different body anatomical locations and allows for deeper penetration. It is used for the detection and treatment of soft tissue disorders.
A proposed description for IASTM is “a skilled intervention that includes the use of specialized tools to manipulate the skin, myofascia, muscles, and tendons by various direct compressive stroke techniques”.
The technique itself is said to have evolved from Gua sha which is a method used in Chinese medicine. Gua sha uses instruments with smoothed edges to scrape the skin till red blemishes occur. However, Gua sha has different rationale, goals, and application method from IASTM.
How does it work?
Instruments effectively break down fascial restrictions and scar tissue. The ergonomic design of these instruments provides the clinician with the ability to locate restrictions and allows the clinician to treat the affected area with the appropriate amount of pressure.
The introduction of controlled microtrauma to affected soft tissue structure causes the stimulation of local inflammatory response. Microtrauma initiates reabsorption of inappropriate fibrosis or excessive scar tissue and facilitates a cascade of healing activities resulting in remodelling of affected soft tissue structures. Adhesions within the soft tissue which may have developed as a result of surgery, immobilization, repeated strain or other mechanisms, are broken down allowing full functional restoration to occur.