This past weekend I attended RockTape’s FMT Blades course at the Brooklyn Athletic Club here in NYC. RockTape has been around for quite some time now and has been steadily increasing the number of continuing education courses they offer beyond just taping, including a “movability” course, a special populations course and even animal-focused therapy courses. I received virtually zero exposure to instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) during my formal education, and had only come across it in the past as a portion of Dr. Erson Religioso’s Eclectic Approach seminar. Having heard good things about RockTape’s series of continuing education courses, I was eager to dive in.
A main point regarding the mechanisms behind IASTM that was established early on was providing sensory input that would in turn help guide a desired motor output. Personally this was important for me as I believe the concepts behind manual therapy or soft tissue management systems should be as aligned with modern pain science as possible. In regards to mechanical versus neurological mechanisms, the former model appears to be receiving more scrutiny as far as the scientific literature is concerned. For example, clinically speaking, I subscribe to the beliefs that there is poor inter-rater reliability behind the ability of clinicians to locate trigger points, that fascia cannot be physically deformed and changed without a tremendous amount of force and that soft-tissue adhesions can’t be simply rubbed away. Therefore in order for me to responsibly incorporate IASTM into my practice, the primary reasoning behind its usage would be that it’d be influencing the nervous system to change neurological tone or to decrease the perception of threat which would then allow windows of opportunity for desired rehabilitative neuromuscular activities to then occur.
The didactic portion of the course delved into a bit of the science surrounding pain, fascia and the physiology of mechanoreceptors which helped set the stage for the different techniques we would learn and employ with our instruments. Having no instruments of my own heading into the course other than Kelly Starrett’s Mobility Star product, I opted for the course price of $550.00 which included an FMT Blades kit containing two instruments (the Mallet and the Mullet), emollient and alcohol wipes. This kit’s retail price on the RockTape website is $299.00, and if you already have your own set of tools you are given the option of a $250.00 price for taking only just the course. For a single-day course to include these tools, a roll of RockTape and an unexpected bonus of lifetime discounts to their products, the price of $550.00 is probably one of the most competitive prices as far as IASTM continuing education courses go.