Tooling Therapy

What is Tooling Therapy?

We have long used massage and other techniques to help reduce muscle tightness and aid in the process of sports conditioning and recovery. Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM) or Tooling is another method to help with muscle recovery. It works by breaking down scar tissue and sticking in connective tissue, and by improving blood flow to the area, allowing the muscle to better relax and contract.

At Whole Health Chiropractic, are a Level 1 Trainer for SMART Tools. We offer treatment using this toolset and also training for other health practitioners looking to learn the basics of IASTM using these tools.

Who Can Benefit from Tooling Therapy?

Tooling therapy is used for everything from car accident trauma recovery to running injuries. When an area is regularly treated with tooling therapy, those muscles can relax, allowing bones to better shift into place and alignment to improve. It can help improve those areas beyond basic massage so that other treatments (adjustments, muscle retraining) are more effective.

IASTM Benefits


  • Because of my athletic career, I have chronic neck pain along with a host of other body problems. Ryan takes the time to not only take care of my neck and spine, preventing more serious injuries that I have flirted with in the past, but also helps me recover and prevent or treat other minor injuries that I sustain during training.

    Sports Injury Patient Devin Hightower

Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM) or Tooling can help with:

  • Body building
  • Muscle Soreness
  • Muscle Cramping
  • Running Injury
  • Knee or Hip Pain
  • Shoulder Pain
  • Training Recovery
  • Athletic Performance Optimization

How do we use Smart Tools?

When you have a stubborn injury or compromised muscle contraction, we use the Smart Tool that will best improve the contractility of that area. Appropriate use of tooling, combined with prescribed Corrective Exercise Training (CET) has been demonstrated to improve performance and prevent injury.

What should I expect?

When you come in for tooling therapy, we will have you lie down on one of our massage tables. First we assess the affected area to determine the proper technique and tooling device for that area. Next, we will manipulate the affected tissue with the tool. This can result in a number of different tissue responses, such as petechiae or even slight bruising to the area, all of which are entirely natural.

Unlike Gua sha, a traditional Chinese medicine therapy where the intention is to produce petechiae or bruising, tooling therapy sometimes has this affect and sometimes does not. The amount or type of bruising doesn't indicate the effectiveness of the therapy.

Each treatment lasts approx 10 min and at the end of the visit, you may notice that the action of the muscle feels as though it moves smoother and easier. Make sure that you hydrate well after therapy and do some light activity to maximize benefit.

Cupping Therapy

Cupping or neuromuscular decompression therapy is different from the "fire cupping "from Chinese medicine derivative in a number of ways. For one, no heat or flame is employed so it is far safer, additionally, the therapeutic aim is to increase local circulation to ischemic tissues versus balance energies from various chakras etc.

How do we use cupping?

Similar to other forms of therapy at Whole Health Chiropractic, cupping is only performed after a rigorous assessment of the injury. Often times injured tissues experience physiological changes which result in calmed blood flow which is called “ischemia". Cupping works by pressure applied to the relevant tissue wall section through the cup, causing blood flow to increase to compromised tissue.

What should you expect?

Often, you will see circular bruising near the area treated. This bruising is entirely natural. While it can be cosmetically alarming, it is not a health concern. Afterward, to best maximize therapy benefit, hydrate properly and do a light, full range of motion (ROM) activity.