Treating Tennis Injuries and Tendinopathy: Advice From an Expert

By:  Lisa Chase, PT, OMPT

Tennis elbow, plantar fasciitis and rotator cuff tendinopathy are common injuries that can plague a tennis player. The last thing an athlete wants to hear is, “You must rest and stop playing tennis.”  Soft tissue injuries can be painful, limiting conditions that are slow to heal, which is particularly challenging to a tennis player who wants to get back in the game.

Many athletes seek advice from primary care and sports medicine physicians when they have tendon pain and then are often offered anti-inflammatories, injections, and told to rest.  Typically, this common regimen only offers temporary relief and may not be the best method to heal a tendinopathy. Astym therapy targets the underlying cause of many soft tissue problems, rather than just trying to relieve symptoms.  It is unmatched in its ability to resolve tendinopathies, and often works even after other approaches fail.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TENDINOPATHY, TENDINITIS AND TENDINOSIS?

The word “tendinopathy” actually means “disease of a tendon,” and is a broader term for two conditions known as “tendinosis,” or degenerative tendinopathy, and “tendinitis,” or acute, inflammatory tendinopathy. Although “tendonitis” is used often, most cases of tendinopathy are not associated with significant inflammation and thus don’t respond well to anti-inflammatory medications.

WHAT CAUSES TENDINOPATHY?

Tendinopathy can be caused by overuse or improper loading of the muscle-tendon unit. It can also be caused by degeneration of soft tissues due to injury, age or other reasons. Repetitive strain on a tendon may cause tiny tears that accumulate over time. These tears may result in pain and can eventually change the structure of the tendon resulting in acute inflammation and/or degeneration that can lead to pain, tissue adhesions, movement impairment and eventually loss of function.

HOW PHYSICAL THERAPISTS HELP HEAL TENDINOPATHY

ADDRESS THE CAUSE

  • Astym therapy addresses the underlying cause of tendinopathy and other soft tissue problems by engaging the body to regenerate healthy soft tissues (muscles, tendons, etc.), and eliminating unwanted scar tissue that may be causing pain or movement restrictions.
  • Correct poor footwear
  • Assess or change equipment, for example choosing a racquet with a larger sweet spot will help reduce load on the arm.
  • Correct stroke mechanics, for example bending knees at least 10 degrees during the service motion will lessen the load on the shoulders and elbows.
  • Identify proper training loads and recovery to avoid overuse injuries.
  • Incorporate proper warm-up or cool-down for tennis.
  • Develop a balanced training program for tennis to include stretching, strengthening, speed, core stability, agility, balance and coordination.

WHY ASTYM THERAPY IS SO SUCCESSFUL

Astym therapy, evidenced to engage the regenerative mechanisms of the body and promote the healing of soft tissues, has repeatedly been shown safe and effective in controlled clinical trials, clinical study, and large population outcomes data.  A new approach to soft tissue treatment, Astym therapy resulted from a large, groundbreaking research endeavor supported by major hospitals and universities.  It is used in settings ranging from therapy clinics to hospitals to industrial rehabilitation to elite/professional athletics, and has been proven to be more effective than other available treatments.

Astym-certification is advanced training and not everyone is qualified to perform this higher level of care.  In order to become Astym-certified, a clinician must undergo intensive training and testing.  Doctors often prescribe Astym therapy for their patients because it is safe, high quality care that has been proven to be effective.  To find or confirm a clinician is certified in Astym therapy, visit the Find a Provider section of the Astym therapy website.

Lisa Chase

Lisa Chase, PT, OMPT, Astym Cert is an internationally recognized physical therapist, educator, lecturer and published author with specialty in rehabilitation and wellness. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Therapy from the University of Pittsburgh in 1991, a postgraduate certification in advanced orthopedic manual therapy in 1995. She is Polestar Pilates trained, Certified Kinesio Tape Practitioner, Certified MELT Instructor as well as Astym Certified.  She currently runs her own practice Back 2 Normal Physical Therapy, Inc. where she provides expertise in integrative physical therapy with particular interest in comprehensive and holistic manual physical therapy treatments and prevention of spine, sports and orthopedic injuries.

Lisa has worked one-on-one with world-class athletes, coaches, medical and fitness specialists around the world to help prevent injuries, decrease recovery time and optimize performance. She has brought her expertise to WTA Tour (Professional Women’s Tennis Association), ATP Tour (Professional Men’s Tennis Association) AVP U.S. Pro Beach Volleyball, LPGA, Major League Baseball, the English Premier Soccer League and covered the 2004 Olympics in Athens Greece.

Lisa lectures nationally and has been an Adjunct Clinical Professor at Michigan State University, in the College of Osteopathic Medicine, since 1998 and Assistant Instructor for SFMA and FMS Systems since 2010. She is a published author of several books on aquatic rehabilitation and published coauthor in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Lisa is also the founder and co-owner Rehab Links, a unique exercise software for medical, health and fitness professionals.

 

 

Finally, Tennis Elbow Relief with Astym Therapy

My pain began about 3 months prior to receiving the Astym treatment. I had limited mobility in my right elbow and sharp pains as well. After a few months I sought treatment from a chiropractor. Unfortunately this did not relieve my pain. My chiropractor referred me to an orthopedic surgeon, and this is where I was diagnosed with tennis elbow. I received a cortisone shot and began occupational therapy. During therapy I was given the Astym therapy. It was painful at times but my mobility began to increase, and I was able to use my right arm again. I am grateful for this typ of therapy because I am right handed and use my arms so much throughout the day when I teach, do household chores and many other activities. With this therapy I was able to go back to my normal life. Thank you so much!!!

Emily
Treating Clinic:  Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center
800 West 9th Street, Jasper, IN 47546
Phone: 812-996-0682 Website: www.mhhcc.org

Swinging For Success: Astym therapy improves golf swing

My name is Emma de Groot, and I am a professional golfer on the LPGA and LPGA Symetra Tour. I have suffered from chronic back pain since an almost career ending car accident in 2011. Since I began working with Back2Normal, my function and movement has continually improved, however there has always been some restriction in my rotation. After three months playing non stop golf, and countless travel hours in Australia at the beginning of the year, I came back to Florida with extreme restriction in movement. Since being away, Lisa had become certified in the Astym method and got to work on me straight away. Within two treatments, I had my full range of motion back in my thoracic spine, as well as my hips and ankles, no pain whatsoever, and a far improved golf swing.

Emma de Groot
Treating Clinician: Lisa Chase
Back 2 Normal Physical Therapy
Wellness & Rehabilitation 465 2nd Avenue North Suite A
St Petersburg, FL 33701 Phone: 727-362-6866                          Website: www.back2normalpt.com

 

Astym® Therapy Presenting at 2016 Annual World Cancer Congress

The recent peer-reviewed research on Astym therapy improving function and range of motion in breast cancer survivors is getting a lot of attention.  Claire Davies, PT, PhD CLT-LANA, the lead researcher and main author, has been invited to present at Annual World Cancer Congress taking place next month. This research demonstrates the impressive effectiveness of Astym therapy methods and protocols in breast cancer survivors.

The Astym therapy methods and protocols are evidence based and scientifically developed.  Medical research consistently demonstrates the safety and effectiveness of Astym therapy methods, and also shows how Astym therapy is key in successful treatment following breast cancer treatment.

Only Astym-certified clinicians offer this therapy, and they are all listed in the Find A Provider directory the astym website.  In order to become certified in Astym therapy, clinicians undergo intensive training  and testing.

I was sidelined with leg pain, Astym therapy gave me amazing results; now I am telling other runners.

I was training for my 2nd full marathon and doing quite well. So well that if I was able to finish at my goal and paces that I’d been training at, I would qualify for Boston. One week before the race, I started it have pretty severe pain in my lower left leg. Was it shin splints? Knots in my calves? I tried to continue to run on it but to no avail. It was diagnosed as a stress fracture and I was unable to run the race. In fact, I was on crutches for 6 weeks.
The recovery was very slow. My doctor recommended Astym therapy. I had never heard of it and wondered if it was some kind of hocky treatment. I did some reading and decided it might actually be legit so I made an appointment with my PT to try it.
Amazing results!!! Via about 8 Astym treatments, she was able to work out the knots in my calf muscles. We made some gait and shoe changes and slowly I was able to begin running again!
I didn’t realize how much I had missed running until I was able to get back out there. I was alive again!
I’m now training for a half marathon and I feel GREAT! I literally tell all my running friends about Astym therapy when ever they are experiencing muscle issues as I truly believe it will benefit them!

Deb Dunham
Treating Clinic:  Altru Rehabilitation Center
1300 South Columbia Road
Grand Forks, ND 58201
Phone: 701-780-2315  Website: www.altru.org

Bunionectomy left me with pain; Astym therapy fixed me

I had a bunionectomy in September of 2015. I went through 2 months of traditional physical therapy and was still in quite a bit of pain, but felt the therapy was no longer helping and thought that was just the healing process and it needed more time. Three months later my foot still hurt every time it hit the ground, I had a lot of swelling and stiffness and when I noticed I’d lost over half my range of motion in my big toe, I called my podiatrist. She wrote it off to “osteoarthritis”. I felt I didn’t want to live my life with the condition my foot was in and believed it could improve. I chose a different therapy place this time and went to Team Rehabilitation. I didn’t realize how lucky I got, they were one of the few places in the area that practices Astym therapy.  Within about two weeks, I noticed a huge improvement in my foot and toe, my pain level went from a 7 to a 3. I’m continuing therapy, I still have slight swelling and stiffness, but am so glad I asked my podiatrist for a second referral to physical therapy and chose Team Rehabilitation. Without Astym therapy, I’m sure I would have spent the rest of my life in unnecessary pain and discomfort.

Sue DeMaggio
Treating Clinic: Team Rehabilitation Physical Therapy-Southfield
27652 Franklin Road Southfield, MI 48034
Phone: 248-359-8700 Website: www.team-rehab.com

Astym therapy helped me after knee surgery

I had surgery on my left knee in October 2015. I had to have physical therapy and then I was introduced to Astym therapy. The first time it helped with the swelling but it was painful. After a few days it did feel better.

During physical therapy my progress with my mobility was developing slowly. I believe having Astym treatment helped my swelling go down, which improved my mobility.

Astym treatment helped my progress during my physical therapy treatments and I would recommend it to future patients.

Nick Signorile
Treating Clinic: Diamond Physical Therapy
1140 East Algonquin Road
Algonquin, IL 60102
Phone: 847-854-0196 Website:  www.dptrehab.com

A note from the Astym program:  Clinical study has shown Astym therapy to be very helpful when used post-surgically. A large study was just published in the Journal of Knee Surgery, and it showed that patients suffering from persistent knee stiffness following surgery had significant improvement from Astym therapy. 

Astym therapy vs. IASTM: What’s the difference?

Astym therapy resulted from a groundbreaking research endeavor undertaken by a multidisciplinary research team including well-known scientists, therapists, and physicians, with support from major universities and hospitals.  In this Astym Research Project, the team had the unique advantage of being able to combine knowledge of physiology, cellular biology, and emerging scientific discoveries into the development of a whole new approach in the treatment of soft tissue dysfunction.  Astym therapy continues to forge new ground in the treatment of injuries and also expand the boundaries of physical therapy into new patient populations.  The Astym Research Project developed entirely unique new theories on how to engage soft tissue healing, and changed the actual paradigm on how to treat soft tissue dysfunction.

Astym therapy, evidenced to engage the regenerative mechanisms of the body and promote the healing of soft tissues, has repeatedly been shown safe and effective in controlled clinical trials, clinical study, and large population outcomes studies.

Astym treatment is different in goals and application from the Instrument-Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM) techniques.  IASTM uses tooled friction massage to mechanically break apart tissue, whereas Astym therapy’s aim is to engage the regenerative mechanisms of the body to repair damaged tissue and resorb scar tissue.  IASTM’s role in the treatment of soft tissue dysfunction is unclear, as IASTM has been shown to (a) not improve treatment results for ankle injury, (b) be comparable to no treatment being provided in elbow tendinopathy, and (c) result in a significant increase in pain and a significant decrease in the perception of function, where the ability to perform activities of daily living (ADL) decreased following IASTM.  There have been case studies suggesting IASTM may have a role in treatment, however, those studies have largely been multimodal, so conclusions from those are difficult or impossible to draw.  The research that has isolated IASTM for study suggests that clinical use may not be beneficial.

For a fully referenced summary of research on Astym therapy and IASTM, please read this Research Overview.

 

Runner’s knee pain: Astym therapy cured it!

I was experiencing some knee pain while I was training for a marathon this past fall. I went in to see the physical therapist who is Astym-certified. We talked about the benefits of the soft tissue reallignment and how it might benefit me being a distance runner. While Astym therapy was not the most pleasant experience during treatment, it cured my knee pain and got me back on the road to recovery…pun intended! Now I am training for a marathon in the spring but being much more cautious and listening to my body. I have not had any knee issues since being discharged from physical therapy, and hope to stay that way for a long time.

Tyler Bischof
Treating Clinic: SERC of Liberty
9760 North Ash Avenue
Kansas City, MO 64157
Phone: 816-792-0803  Website: www.serctherapy.com

 

Car Accident Survivor: Astym therapy was key in recovery

I was in a high speed, head on collision. I got lucky and only suffered from a shattered heel bone and a few superficial back fractures. When it came time for me to be 75% weight bearing, i was unable to put hardly any weight on my leg and was in a lot of pain. My PT used astym  therapy and by the end of the day I was able to put weight on the leg and my pain had dropped dramatically. By the next day my leg felt so good, I felt as if I could walk without my crutches. Every time my injury has taken a turn for the worse, she has used astym therapy and I am 100% better by the next day. The process itself is painful but it has been a miracle worker for my injuries and my ability to be back at work! Ginger was a life saver!

Andrea Paul
Treating Clinic:   ATI Physical Therapy-Kirkland
11821 NE 128th Street  Suite C
Kirkland, WA 98034
Phone: 708-227-1497
Website:  www.atipt.com

Restore – Revitalize – Recover