Smart Tools Therapy (IASTM) for Sports Injuries

Dr Jesse Cai is one of the first Smart Tools practitioners in Singapore and Australia. Smart Tools is an evidence-based technique and instrument system designed to facilitate soft tissue injury recovery. The treatment works on “scar tissue” or adhesions in the muscle or fascia to eliminate pain and restore range of motion.

In view of the latest research evidence and clinical guideline recommendations, Square One Active Recovery no longer offers IASTM (SMART Tools, Graston, etc) as a core modality.

Since the transition, majority of our clients are leaving our care within 4 to 7 visits. To learn more about how to achieve results our competitors cannot match, go to How To Live Pain-Free.

Whether you are in chronic or acute pain, Smart Tools can help you regain your life again! Dr Jesse Cai is one of the first Smart Tools practitioners in Singapore and Australia. While seemingly comparable to other IASTM (instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilisation) techniques such as Graston and FAKTR, Smart Tools is the only FDA-approved instruments on the market. At Square One, our patients’ safety is paramount to us. We are 100% about delivering the best care to our patients!

Smart Tools is an evidence-based IASTM technique and instrument system designed to facilitate soft tissue injury recovery. The treatment works on “scar tissue” or adhesions in the muscle or fascia to eliminate pain and restore range of motion. These results allow faster rehabilitation and restoration of normal function. In athletes, Smart Tools also reduces the time taken to return to sport. Sounds good, aye?

Neuromuscular Re-education

The technique aims to retrain muscle and nerves to fire in a biomechanically efficient way to encourage better movement and posture.


Electrotherapy is the use of pulsed low-voltage electrical currents to stimulate sensory nerves of the body to provide relief for both acute and chronic pain.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Scar Tissue a Problem?

When we injure ourselves, our body attempts to repair our muscles, tendons, and ligaments with fibrous tissue commonly referred to as “scar tissue”. The “scar tissue” is often referred to as the superglue of the body and acts as a scaffold for repair. Unfortunately, the new cells are laid down in an excessive and disorganised manner. The resulting “scar tissue” or adhesion that forms prevents muscle cells from sliding correctly. It is not as flexible or strong as normal, healthy, undamaged tissue. This causes pain and a reduction in your range of motion.  

How Do Smart Tools Work?

Smart Tools “restarts” the healing process by introducing controlled, microtrauma to the affected region. The simulation of the soft tissue with the use of FDA-approved instruments induces connective tissue remodelling. The remodelling occurs as excessive fibrous tissue are broken down while repair and regeneration occur through fibroblast recruitment. This has been confirmed through light microscopy studies where tissue specimens taken after treatment shows increased fibroblast proliferation.

Smart Tools pair the mechanical stimulation of the tissue with specific movements to enhance patient’s recovery. With Smart Tools treatment applied to an actively contracting muscle, we can more efficiently and effectively help your muscle cells slide against each other. The result is muscle and connective tissue fibres that are properly organised and aligned.

I Don't Have Any Injuries, How Is This Relevant To Me?

You do not need to experience a traumatic accident to experience aches and pains. Likewise, fibrous “scar tissue” can build up in your body over time without any physical assault to your body. Adhesions and taut muscle bands can develop from overuse (or overtraining), spending a prolonged period in a fixed posture, lack of exercise, poor sleep, joint arthritis, or nerve entrapment. These adhesions and taut muscle bands contain biochemicals that cause pain to your body. Smart Tools breakdowns these damaged, dysfunctional tissues to let you regain pain-free movement.

How Are Smart Tools Different From Gua Sha?

Gua Sha is a traditional Chinese therapy where an instrument is used to press, push and scrape on the skin to relieve the body of blood (Xue) stagnation or to manipulate energy known as “qi” around the body. Gua Sha tools are typically made of buffalo horns and jade. Gua refers to the scrapping of the skin while Sha refers to the redness that occurs as a result of the therapy. It is not uncommon for patients to be left with significant bruising after therapy. Because of the aggressive nature of the therapy, practitioners may break the skin during treatment which poses as an infection risk. Gua Sha is used to treat everything under the sun from musculoskeletal pain to cancer to common cold.

Smart Tools, on the other hand, is a gentle and evidence-based method that focuses on musculoskeletal pain. The positive effects of Smart Tools are well documented in research studies. Smart Tools is the only FDA-approved instrument available. The instruments used by other physiotherapists, chiropractors, and TCM-practitioners are not endorsed by FDA for medical uses and may not be safe for patients.

Smart Tools is also not designed to be painful or to cause pain. 

Are Smart Tools a Type of Massage?

While most people feel better after a massage, a massage is non-specific to your complaint and does not address the underlying abnormalities that may be present. Furthermore, the unaided hand is unable to as accurately detect “scar tissue” and adhesions as the Smart Tools instruments can. These instruments are designed to amplify tactile feedback allowing the detection of “scar tissue” or adhesions as they glide along your muscle, tendon, or ligament – effectively acting as a “scar tissue” stethoscope. Under the guidance of an experienced Smart Tools practitioner, patients would be able to specifically identify the tissue dysfunction in the affected region. As the “scar tissue” or adhesions are encountered, you may expect a sensation of grittiness or a granular feeling under the skin.

Breaking Up Scar Tissue Sounds Painful

Smart Tools is a highly sophisticated technique designed to promote recovery. It is not meant to be painful or to cause excessive bruising. The results Smart Tools offer are not dependent on the severity of bruising or intensity of pain. As such, treatments do not need to be painful to be effective.

As with other forms of manual therapy, some patients may experience mild bruising or discomfort through treatment. A Smart Tools-certified practitioner will be able to recognise these symptoms and adjust treatment intensity accordingly  to reduce such occurrences.

Are Smart Tools Appropriate For Me?

Smart Tools can be used to alleviate the following symptoms:

  •      Pain with or without movement
  •      Limited range of motion
  •      Muscle tightness/soreness
  •      Myofascial trigger points or “muscle knots”
  •      Motor control dysfunction (muscle activation/coordination)


Conditions typically successfully treated with Smart Tools:

  •      Neck and backaches
  •      Tendinopathies (including Achilles, patella, rotator cuff)
  •      Tennis or Golfer’s elbow
  •      IT band syndrome
  •      Plantar facilities

Smart Tools remains the best instrument-assisted therapy available and is the only FDA-approved instruments in the market. It is designed to specifically target dysfunctional muscles and address these dysfunctions to promote repair and regeneration.