Background: Within the practice of physical medicine, instrument-assisted soft-tissue mobilization (IASTM) is increasing in popularity. However, the intervention is still in its infancy and important clinical issues require elucidation; among these are the effects on asymptomatic individuals.
Methods: Twenty healthy males were allocated randomly to either 3 minutes of high-pressure IASTM or active self-stretch of the triceps surae muscles. Each individual served as his own control. Pre-post observations of active ankle range of motion, pressure-pain sensitivity and the occurrence of postintervention petechial haemorrhage were made.
Results: A significant within-group increase in ankle range of motion was observed for both groups, but no significant between-group differences were noted. Pressure-pain sensitivity remained essentially unchanged. No petechiae were detected postintervention.
Conclusion: Notwithstanding the limitations of this relatively small study and in relation to healthy individuals, IASTM increased active range of motion to the same extent as active self-stretch. Heavydose IASTM did not influence pain-pressure sensitivity and petechiae did not develop.