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J Can Chiropr Assoc. 2016 Sep;60(3):200-211.

The efficacy of instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization: a systematic review.

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Division of Kinesiology, California State University Dominguez Hills.
Department of Movement Sciences, University of Idaho.


in English, French


Instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) is a popular treatment for myofascial restriction. IASTM uses specially designed instruments to provide a mobilizing effect to scar tissue and myofascial adhesions. Several IASTM tools and techniques are available such as the Graston® technique. Currently, there are no systematic reviews that have specifically appraised the effects of IASTM as a treatment or to enhance joint range of motion (ROM).


The purpose of this study was to systematically appraise the current evidence assessing the effects of IASTM as an intervention to treat a musculoskeletal pathology or to enhance joint ROM.


A search of the literature was conducted during the month of December 2015 which included the following databases: PubMed, PEDro, Science Direct, and the EBSCOhost collection. A direct search of known journals was also conducted to identify potential publications. The search terms included individual or a combination of the following: instrument; assisted; augmented; soft-tissue; mobilization; Graston®; and technique.


A total of 7 randomized controlled trials were appraised. Five of the studies measured an IASTM intervention versus a control or alternate intervention group for a musculoskeletal pathology. The results of the studies were insignificant (p>.05) with both groups displaying equal outcomes. Two studies measured an IASTM intervention versus a control or alternate intervention group on the effects of joint ROM. The IASTM intervention produced significant (P<.05) short term gains up to 24 hours.


The literature measuring the effects of IASTM is still emerging. The current research has indicated insignificant results which challenges the efficacy of IASTM as a treatment for common musculoskeletal pathology, which may be due to the methodological variability among studies. There appears to be some evidence supporting its ability to increase short term joint ROM.


chiropractic, Graston®; massage; myofascial


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