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.