Muscular dysfunction can be debilitating! Whether the result of a sports injury, post-surgical scar tissue buildup, or simply undiagnosable tension, individuals facing soft tissue damage may look to a variety of treatments for relief. Astym therapy is a highly successful, non-invasive option for individuals ready to return to normal life, free of muscular pain.
Could astym therapy be right for you? Determining if you need astym treatment begins with an understanding of the unique therapy, a list of commonly treated conditions, and groups of individuals who often pursue treatment.
What is Astym Treatment?
Although commonly confused as an acronym, astym treatment is simply a name. In fact, the therapy is named after its primary purpose: to engage the body’s natural healing mechanisms via “a-stimulation.”
When muscle damage occurs, muscle fibers often become jumbled and hardened. This treatment informs soft tissues to restart the inflammation process and encourage natural regeneration. The treatment “has been shown to stimulate a regenerative response via stimulating the recruitment and activation of fibroblasts, which product fibronectin, and thereby helps to facilitate soft tissue healing and remodeling.”
Astym is unique, because the treatment does not disrupt healthy muscle fibers – the technique only realigns dysfunction soft tissues, returning patients to normal functioning without pain in short order.
Astym Treatment vs IASTM Treatment
Before diving into the list of conditions commonly treated with astym therapy, we must make an important distinction. Commonly confused, astym treatment is distinctly different from IASTM therapy (Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization). Both the “methods and results are quite different from Astym therapy, and IASTM methods are often not well-tolerated by patients. IASTM methods use tooled cross friction massage to mechanically break apart the tissue, whereas astym therapy engages the regenerative mechanisms of the body aiming to repair damaged tissue and resorb scar tissue.”
What Conditions Can Astym Therapy Treat?
Astym therapy is designed to treat a wide variety of soft tissue problems, especially unresolved conditions. Individuals experiencing pain or restricted movement but hoping to avoid surgery may also pursue astym therapy.
A variety of treatable conditions include:
- Achilles tendonitis
- Ankle pain
- Tennis elbow
- Sprains and strains
- Hand pain
- IT band syndrome
- Scar tissue
- Shoulder pain
- Joint stiffness
- Back pain
- Carpal tunnel
- Neck pain
- Plantar fasciitis
- Wrist pain
- And more!
Common physical symptoms associated with the aforementioned conditions, such as scar tissue, are discussed in one academic journal, systematically reviewing astym therapy:
Scar tissue formation around muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments is often characterized by limited function, swelling, and pain. This abnormal tissue can form because of immobilization, overuse injuries, acute or chronic trauma, and other reasons; and can lead to chronic inflammation and tendinopathies.
Astym Treatment Tools
Astym treatment utilizes specially made tools, designed to interact with injured muscles in a similar fashion as deep tissue massage. Often clear blue or white, astym tools are made in varying sizes. Your therapist will likely use larger tools for larger muscle groups and smaller, specialized tools for small muscle groups, often working from largest to smallest.
What is Astym Treatment Like?
During treatment, astym tools are applied on top of the skin, transferring mild pressure to unhealthy tissues. The pressure is carefully applied to stimulate tissue turnover and prompt regeneration of soft tissues structures, including muscles and tendons. As the tools are applied over any fibrotic tissues (scar tissues), patients may feel a bumpy or “crunchy” sensation as the tissues are stretched.
One excellent resource for astym treatment info describes the Astym healing process:
Astym treatment is typically provided twice weekly for four to five weeks (about 9 total treatment sessions) and is done in conjunction with eccentric loading, stretching, and functional exercises. Unlike other treatments, Astym encourages patients to active, workers to stay on the job, and athletes to stay in their sport during treatment. The Astym process makes the tissues of the body stronger and allows a patient’s body to become adapted to greater stress without injury.
Treatment itself often lasts between 10-15 minutes, followed by stretching to reduce mild soreness. Patients can often return to physical activity directly after treatment and typically experience instantaneous relief from pain and increased muscular flexibility.
Who is Astym Treatment For?
After learning about the details of astym treatment, specific tools, and associated benefits, you may begin to wonder whocould benefit from this treatment technique. Could this treatment be applied to your situation and lead to recovery?
Astym therapy is often applied to specific patient groups, including:
- Professional athletes, triathletes, golfers, runners, tennis players, and members of the military.
- Individuals looking to avoid surgery or injections with non-invasive treatment.
- Individuals who have not found successful healing past treatments.
If you are still unsure if astym treatment is right for your situation, reach out to a trusted physical therapist for guidance!
Rock Valley Physical Therapy
At Rock Valley Physical Therapy, our team is dedicated to the good of our patients, helping every client return to normal life by treating the source of the problem – not just the symptoms.
To learn more about our restorative physical therapy services, reach out via our online contact form! A team member will respond promptly!