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Continuing Education2 Credits

IASTM: Upper Extremity Fascia

Upper Extremity Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM)

Course Summary: Upper Extremity Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM)

This course describes instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) for the fascial sheaths of the upper extremity, including the brachial fascia (upper arm fascia), antebrachial fascia (forearm fascia), pectoral fascia (superficial chest fascia), upper thoracic spine fascia, infraspinatus fascia (superficial scapula fascia), and deltoid fascia (shoulder muscle fascia). Additionally, modifications of the techniques are discussed, incorporating specific treatments for trigger points, and pin and stretch techniques with IASTM.

Unfortunately, it is easy to be confused by a large number of synonyms for the techniques in this course. Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) is a technique that generally includes the application of shear force (scraping) to skin and superficial fascia using a tool with a rounded, but relatively acute edge. IASTM could be viewed as a Western approach to a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) technique called Gua Sha. While the application of IASTM is most commonly based on orthopedic assessment with stainless steel tools, the application of Gua Sha is based on TCM-specific assessments and jade or stone tools. Graston is the most well-known brand of IASTM stainless steel tools; however, we do prefer Smart Tools based on the quality, edge, and price. Note, historically the origin of these techniques is undoubtedly Gua Sha, which is perhaps 1000s of years old, Graston popularized IASTM in the Western world, and now there are many brands and tools to choose from.

The techniques in this course are recommended as an adjunct mobility technique, included in an integrated program that already includes or has considered soft-tissue release techniques, joint mobilization and manipulation techniques, and/or lengthening (stretching) techniques. The addition of IASTM may be especially beneficial for individuals assessed with range of motion (ROM) restriction of the upper extremity, thoracic spine, or perhaps cervical spine. They may be included in a program designed to address shoulder impingement syndrome (SIS), lateral epicondylalgia (tennis elbow), scapular dyskinesis, upper thoracic spine pain, or chronic neck pain. Further, these techniques may be beneficial for those with assessed impairments including glenohumeral internal rotation deficit (GIRD), forward head posture (increased cervical vertebral angle), upper body dysfunction (upper crossed syndrome), and/or rounded shoulder posture (RSP).

The techniques in this course are recommended for all clinical human movement professionals (physical therapists, physical therapy assistants, athletic trainers, massage therapists, chiropractors, occupational therapists, etc.) with the intent of developing an evidence-based , systematic, integrated , patient-centered, and outcome-driven approach.

Topics Covered in this Course

  • Signs of Altered Extensibility
  • Sample Program
  • Research Corner
  • IASTM Protocols
  • Techniques (with Video)

Techniques Covered in this Course:

Additional IASTM Courses

  • Coming Soon

For more on an integrated approach:

Introduction: Upper Extremity IASTM

Research Corner

2 sub-categories

Upper Extremity IASTM Technique and Videos

4 sub-categoriesvideo


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1. Chapter 1: Course Summary

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