Hawk Grips

Equine Physio Services – Assessment of Hawk Grips and Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilisation application for Equine Specific Veterinary Physiotherapy

Over the last 6 months I have been developing and exploring techniques of Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilisation (IASTM) using Hawk Grips as part of Veterinary Physiotherapy provision to equine patients. There are currently no available guideline’s to assist or refer to as part of the provision of techniques specific to Veterinary Physiotherapy provision.

Using pre-existing knowledge and skill of IASTM in human practise, similar techniques were used for equine specific practice following usual clinical reasoning practises and thorough subjective and objective assessment. It should also be highlighted that all veterinary physiotherapy provision followed veterinary consent in accordance to UK Law (Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966).


Assessment of the spine using Hawk Grips:

Before treatment can commence, the therapist must assess the patient in order to clinically reason treatment modalities. Using the Hawk Grips at this stage can be useful to assess tone and identify areas of pain and spasm of the soft tissue. The tools that were found to be most useful at this stage was the Scanner HG8 and Boomerang HG7. Mapping the soft tissue of the neck and back using these tools was easy to carry out and comfortable for the patient while using mild pressure. Fasciculation of superficial tissue was observed and noted.


Cervical Spine:

Using the Scanner and/ or Boomerang over the soft tissues of the cervical spine, one can assess the tone and pliability of tissue in addition to manual palpation and range of movement assessment. Using the Medium Multicurve in a dorsal direction over the occiput and caudal to the wing of atlas will identify areas of increased tone or spasm over the muscle-tendon junctions.

Thoracic Spine:

Scanning the area using Scanner- Pay close attention to the thoracic spine and rib insertion points. Looking and feeling for fasciculation or pain reaction/ muscle spasm. Using the Scanner in the direction of the muscle and then scanning in a caudal direction afterwards will ensure that no area of tissue is missed. The therapist can then identify areas of pain and/ or increased tone of the epaxial muscles.

Pelvis and Gluteal area- Handlebar 1/2/3

Using the handle bar gips allows access to a large surface area of tissue. Application of long effleurage strokes over the superficial gluteal increased tissue temperature leading to improved muscle suppleness. This was especially useful prior to sacroiliac mobilisation to reduce soft tissue resistance.

Measurement: There as 3 handle bar grips (HG1/2/3) as part of the set. Measuring the distance between the tuber sacrale and tuber coxae will allow the therapist to select the most suitable size (1/2/3) for use over the superficial gluteal. The bar that is closest in length to the distance between the bony prominences will be the most appropriate size.

HG 9- Tongue Depressor

Using the Tongue Depressor between the ribs and over the tuber sacrale will allow access to the intercostal muscles.

Application of slow strokes of mild to moderate pressure may reduce intercostal muscle resistance and allow improved rib movement, aiding respiration. This was performed prior to passive rib mobilisation.

Equine Physio Services intends on developing further techniques that are safe, effective and in line with human application techniques specifically for the equine athlete following veterinary referral.

Faith Fisher-Atack BSc Hons PG Dip Vet Phys MCSP HCPC ACPAT

Equine Physio Services