I see a lot of runners at my job at New Heights Physical Therapy, many of whom are coming to see me for nagging calf pain, Achilles tendonitis/tendonosis, plantar fasciitis, Iliotibial Band syndrome, and other connective tissue issues. For these runners, I definitely need to improve their mechanics through exercises and ChiRunning instruction.
However, a huge part of helping the healing process is something my patients call “scraping”, “torture tools”, or “the blade”. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it truly delivers results.
What is this?
ASTYM: Astym (A'-stim) stands for “a stimulation” of the body’s healing response, which results in the remodeling/resorption of scar tissue and the regeneration of degenerated tendons. The approach is a non-invasive therapy that works fast and consistently…no meds, no needles, and no surgery. It uses specially contoured hard plastic instruments that glide along the skin with pressure applied (with the help of cocoa butter) to create growth factors in your tissue’s cells to be secreted. After the instruments have done their work, then you go to work with movement and stretching to further improve the remodeling of tissue.
The Astym process is specific and has proven effective through documented, consistent, desirable outcomes – results physicians and patients have come to expect and trust. Developed by a research team of physicians, physical therapists, and scientists, this protocol-driven system yields long-term results with short-term therapy, even when other treatments have failed. Only Astym-certified clinicians may perform the Astym treatment.
In my experience, Astym has been awesome for my runners, myself included. It can hurt like hell, and some of my patient’s cry or try to kick me, but it helps to get that old scarred up tissue more vascularity and to heal properly. Typically, someone with a chronic tendon or muscle issue will benefit after about 6-10 visits on average, though people often report a change in symptoms after 4-5 visits. It is important to go through the entire course of treatment to get full benefit, as the tissue is still in the process of remodeling to actually become physically stronger. That’s what’s great about it—not only are you getting less pain, but the tissue grows back stronger than ever as you exercise it in therapy and at home.
There are guidelines to maximize the effectiveness of Astym, which generally include being as active as possible under the threshold of pain. My runners love hearing that they can try to go running for as much as they comfortably can, as long as there is no sharp pain in the area or in a joint and that it does not get worse as you go. Stretching as given in the handouts should be done at least 4x/day, again feeling good as you go, letting comfort be your guide. I love Total Motion Release for loosening up the whole body, then doing the stretches as prescribed VERY regularly--4X or MORE per day. The results are best that way.
Commonly Treated Conditions using ASTYM
The following are some of the many running diagnoses that demonstrate excellent clinical results when treated with the Astym system: