When incorporating instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) into your practice, mastering the technique is essential. However, just as essential is selecting the right IASTM tools to enhance your technique and the efficacy of the treatment. Tools that are cheaply made or do not offer the required versatility can spoil your efforts and yield less than ideal results for your patients. To obtain the necessary feedback, application consistency, and durability, it’s best to follow set guidelines to guarantee getting the right tools you need.
Let’s look at several common guidelines that should be followed when selecting the right IASTM tools.
Ergonomic Tool Design
When deciding which IASTM tools to purchase, at the forefront should be the practicality of a tool’s design. Simply put: Select a tool that is effective for the treatment while being gentle on your hands. Tools that offer a variety of features but make treatment sessions with patients difficult are not ideal for long-term use. Instead, shop from brands like Smart Tools that are designed to be both highly effective for patient treatment and user friendly.
By making your hands a priority along with providing patients with effective therapeutic relief, you’ll position yourself for making the best decision possible for yourself and your patients.
IASTM tools are available in several material types, including plastic, ivory, jade, and stainless steel. Of these materials, medical-grade stainless steel is generally considered the best option. Its higher tensile strength allows for increased durability and sustainability over time. Plus, it is not susceptible to damage by massage oils or creams used during treatment.
In addition to improved durability, stainless steel instruments provide better tactile feedback than other tools. This feedback can help enhance your treatments and allow you to provide better therapy for your patients.1 Stainless steel instruments also generally weigh more than other tools, which “reduces the effort needed by the practitioner and optimizes effectiveness for use,” especially when treating larger areas.2
Tool Shape & Size
In addition to material type, tool shape and size play a significant factor in selection. Brands like Smart Tools offer a selection of IASTM tools with concave and convex shapes that are palm sized and larger to focus on different areas of the body. Smaller tools may target areas like the hands, feet, forearms, and calves while larger tools may be used for the back, forearms, and pectoral muscles. Depending on the type of areas you intend to target, a set of tools in various sizes and shapes may work best.
Number of Bevelled Edges
The number of bevelled edges on an IASTM tool offers unique benefits and limitations. As a general rule, tools with a single-bevel on one side of the tool allow for deeper penetration during treatment, but these tools can only be used in one direction. Tools that are double bevelled can be used in any direction, allowing for greater versatility of the tool; however, these tools cannot penetrate as deeply as single-bevel tools.1 Each IASTM tool has its own design intent, so select the right tools for the targeted goals of the treatment.
Like with any other equipment and device purchase, buying quality tools can be expensive. Precision-made stainless steel IASTM tools designed for high efficacy can cost more than cheaper material tools. But like the old adage, you really do “get what you pay for.” Cheaper tools do not typically hold up against repeated treatments, and a cheaper purchase made multiple times is not cost saving in the long run. While price is a determining factor, buying high-quality IASTM tools is an investment that pays you back in the professional, effective treatment you provide patients and in the health of your hands.
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1Vizniak, Nikita. “5 Rules to Choosing The Right IASTM Instrument for You.” Prohealthsys, 1 July 2017, www.prohealthsys.com/blog/iastm/5-rules-to-choosing-the-right-iastm-instrument-for-you/.
2“Professional Set.” Professional IASTM Tools – Smart Tools ‘ Tool Sets | Smart Tools Plus, 2020, www.smarttoolsplus.com/detail.cfm/id/2/name/Professional-Set.