Purpose Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) has been reported to improve joint range of motion (flexibility). However, it is not clear whether this change in the joint range of motion is accompanied by any alterations in the mechanical and/or neural properties. This study aimed to investigate the effects of IASTM in plantarflexors and Achilles tendon on the mechanical and neural properties of them. Methods This randomized, controlled, crossover study included 14 healthy volunteers (11 men and 3 women, 21-32 yr). IASTM was performed on the skin over the posterior part of the lower leg for 5 min and targeted the soft tissues (gastrocnemii, soleus, and tibialis posterior muscles; overlying deep fascia; and Achilles tendon). As a control condition, the same participants rested for 5 min between pre- and postmeasurements without IASTM on a separate day. The maximal ankle joint dorsiflexion angle (dorsiflexion range of motion), the peak passive torque (stretch tolerance), and the ankle joint stiffness (slope of the relationship between passive torque and ankle joint angle) during the measurement of the dorsiflexion range of motion and muscle stiffness of the triceps surae (using shear wave elastography) were measured before and immediately after the interventions. Results After IASTM, the dorsiflexion range of motion significantly increased by 10.7% ± 10.8% and ankle joint stiffness significantly decreased by -6.2% ± 10.1%. However, peak passive torque and muscle stiffness did not change. All variables remained unchanged in the repeated measurements of controls. Conclusion IASTM can improve joint range of motion, without affecting the mechanical and neural properties of the treated muscles.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation