Astym and IASTM: Background and Differences

Astym was researched and developed over a period of several years by a team of medical doctors, physical therapists, scientists and other medical professionals. The research and development of Astym was conducted through a collaboration between IU Ball Memorial Hospital, Ball State University, Midwest HealthStrategies (a large outpatient PT organization), Purdue University and others. Research began with basic science studies, progressed to clinical studies of cases, case series, cohort, pilot and clinical trials. A large randomized clinical trial on Astym for lateral epicondylitis was awarded a platform presentation at the American Society for Surgery of the Hand meeting, and now has been submitted for publication and is under review.

The Astym research ensures that Astym is safe and effective, and that research does not apply to any other treatment.  The studies showing the effectiveness and safety of Astym are on the Astym specific protocols which are unique to Astym treatment.

Graston Technique is different in several fundamental ways. Dave Graston, the inventor of Graston Technique has no medical training or formal education after high school. However, he was the machinist who was originally hired to make some mockups of tools for bodywork in the very beginnings of Astym research, but he left that employment prior to any real research being done. He began his own business and had some success in the chiropractic market. Dave Graston coined the term IASTM (Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization) as a generic category for Graston and the other technique he came up with, sound assisted soft tissue mobilization. Some of the chiropractors who have used Graston now have their own personal version IASTM, and use this IASTM term as well to refer to the tooled massage they perform. Dave Graston has been quoted as saying that his techniques are westernized Gua Sha. IASTM techniques have also been referred to as tooled cross friction massages. There is little, if any, peer-reviewed research to support the use of IASTM on patients.

Astym’s application protocols are very different from IASTM.  Astym is not a trial and error approach, but rather a combination of protocols that were developed based on research findings to induce a physiologic healing response. The aim of Astym is to regenerate healthy tissue and stimulate scar tissue/fibrosis to be resorbed by the body.

By contrast, IASTM often works on a trial and error basis in an effort to mechanically break apart tissue to restore movement.

For more information on the differences, follow this link Astym vs. IASTM (Graston,etc.)


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