This is a review of a soft tissue mobilization tool called the EDGE, created by Erson Religioso, PT. You can find the tool at http://www.themanualtherapist.com/p/for-sale-is-300-grade-stainless-steel.html.
In the past few years, I have been reading several PT / Rehab blogs and I have come across the concept of instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) several times. So, I finally broke down and bought the EDGE tool after coming across it on http://www.sportsrehabexpert.com/ and reading Mike Reinold’s blog that mentioned using the ideas of IASTM without necessarily buying the more expensive Graston tools.
To understand my resistance, here is some background information on my viewpoint on soft tissue mobilization / massage in the PT / Rehab setting. I was trained in PT school by a Maitland certified Fellow of the American Association of Orthopedic and Manual Physical Therapy (FAAOMPT) and the manual methods we learned were mobilization and manipulation with some static stretching. We also repeatedly learned about the importance of evidence based practice and we kept hearing that massage / soft tissue techniques have very poor support in an evidence based world (as instructed by my PT School Instructors).
Eventually, I relented somewhat after seeing the role of foam rollers in improving knee pain in patients with ITB issues. Then, I gave into working on trying some trigger point ischemic release and after being treated in this manner at a continuing education course. Later, I started CrossFitting and was following Kelly Starett, the Physical Therapist of the CrossFit world. If you have seen any of his work at http://www.mobilitywod.com, you’ll understand that he clearly sees a value of inflicting some pain in mobilizing (which matched my experience with trigger points).
The EDGE intrigued me for 3 reasons: 1) I could use my hands less, 2) Erson was teaching a very different method – superficial mobilization, and 3) value. This concept of working superficially before going deep was very new to me and initially sounded like a waste of time, especially with my brief experience with trigger point and foam rollers, but I decided to give it a try. Then I came across a lighter method of foam rolling / stick work while watching the Kalos Sthenos / Kettlebells from the Ground Up with Gray Cook and Brett Jones. Gray referenced using the stick lightly to try to relax muscle in the traps. I have really enjoyed learning about functional movement and exercis and I feel Gray Cook has something really good in his FMS and SFMA work, so this further supported my plan to try the EDGE.
So far, I have used the EDGE several times on patients and myself. I am quite amazed by the results. I feel the scar mobility from my surgery is improving from use of the EDGE (I wish I started earlier). I had great results on alleviating some stress and pain in 2 patients with upper trap / levator scap tightness issues. I also saw good results addressing some post operative biceps restrictions after subacromial decompressions and in assisting a patient s/p hamstring tear improve mobility. Most recently, I was able to help a low back pain patient today improve his pain and ability to perform a forward bend (which ties nicely to the SFMA).
One thing that I really like about the EDGE is the ability to assess tissue with it. I feel limited with my palpation skills in that there is so much to feel, but it is hard to objectively describe what you are feeling. With the EDGE, the vibrations that you feel are very specific and easy to document and clearly identify.
As someone who was an adamant soft tissue skeptic, I have totally changed my opinion on the matter with the help of this tool and Erson’s educational videos. They are somewhat straightforward, but I think they give good examples of treatment and progressions for PTs new to the world of IASTM.
It is a great product and an inexpensive tool to improve soft tissue in a relatively more objective and technical manner. I definitely recommend it to any PT or OT.