Advanced Soft Tissue Release (ASTR)
Advanced Soft Tissue Release® (ASTR) is a state of the art, manual therapy technique (patent pending), created by Doctor Joseph Jacobs (doctor of physical therapy), specializing in the evaluation and treatment of soft tissue pain and impairment associated with temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder (Jaw Pain), headaches, muscle pain, joint pain, trigger points, scar tissue, myofascial restriction and soft tissue adhesions.
There are two approaches to treat soft tissue pain: one is to treat the symptoms using heat/cold pack, electric stimulation, massage and/or pain medication. Patients usually experience temporary pain relief with these modalities. The second approach is to address the source of the problem using ASTR®. ASTR’s evaluation is focused on finding the source of the problem, in order to provide long-term relief.
ASTR® is a comprehensive technique that addresses the majority of soft tissue problems. The following are the systems/dysfunctions that are evaluated and treated with ASTR®:
1. Moyfascial - Fascia Restriction:
Fascia is strong connective tissue, similar to a spiderman suit, that wraps the entire body, including muscles and organs from head to toe. Fascia can lose its elasticity and may become restricted as a result of the following: accidents, traumas, surgeries, scar tissue, stress, poor posture and poor body mechanics. When Fascia loses its elasticity, it can cause excessive pressure on the muscles, blood vessels, nerves, bones and organs.
Excessive pressure can cause pain and may decrease joint range of motion. From clinical findings, fascia symptoms often mimic nerve symptoms. Patients often complain of roundish pain/ numbness/ tingling/ soreness/ tightness that doesn’t correlate with normal nerve distribution. Some patients say it feels like a band that surrounds the body part. Unfortunately, fascia restriction does not show up in any of the current, standard tests such as: CAT scan, x-ray, electromyography, myelograms, PET scan, etc. Dr. Jacobs developed the Fascia ScaleTM, in order to help clinicians have an objective measure to assess fascia restriction.
2. Hypertonicity & Trigger Points:
Travell & Simons’ state that trigger points are palpable contracted knots in the muscle’s tissue. The presence of trigger points in the muscle might cause pain and muscle shortening (muscle tension), which Doctor Jacobs calls muscle hypertonicity. Hypertonicity is an excessive muscle tone when compared to the normal feeling of muscle with palpitation while the muscle is in a resting position. ASTR® is considered a neuromuscular re-education technique. ASTR® technique stimulates the nervous system by stimulating the Golgi Tendon Organs, (GTO’s) which decreases muscle hypertonicity and releases trigger points.
Golgi Tendon Organs (GTO's)
ASTR® addresses many systems in the body; one of them being the Golgi Tendon Organs (GTO’s). Every muscle has many sensory receptors called Golgi Tendon Organs (GTO’s). The GTO’s are located near the muscle tendon junction. The GTO’s function is to decrease muscle tension and promote muscle relaxation. In addition to GTO’s, each muscle has neurons called alpha motornerurons which stimulate muscle activity and increase muscle tension. When the muscle becomes tense, the GTO’s fire to prevent the alpha motoneurons from stimulating the muscle, which in turn decreases muscle tension (muscle hypertonicity), releases trigger points and promotes relaxation. The two work to balance muscle activity. Another way to look at this is to imagine that the muscle has two switches. One switch (alpha motorneurons) turns the muscle on and the other switch (GTO’s) turns the muscle off.
For example, if a person sits hunched over his/her computer every day for hours, the alpha motorneuron switch is continually on and their nervous system adapts to their improper posture, which continually stimulates the alpha motorneurons and causes soft tissue pain, muscle strain, excessive scar tissue, increased muscle tension, trigger points, fascia restriction, and/or limited range of motion. ASTR® stimulates the GTO’s, in order to release muscle tension, hypertonicity, soft tissue pain, and trigger points.
3. Joint Displacement (Joint out of normal alignment):
Each Joint has normal joint movement and alignment in our body. Joint displacement is a change in normal joint alignment. Please note that this is not related to joint dislocation. Joint displacement is a very common source of pain for many people and can cause stress and pain to most of the surrounding tissue structures such as: muscle, ligaments, tendons, nerves, arteries, etc.
The majority of joint displacement happens as a result of restriction (tightness) in the soft tissue, which causes the joint to get out of normal alignment. Currently, practitioners use joint mobilization and manipulation to align the joint, instead of addressing the real problem, which is soft tissue restriction. This approach requires patients to see their practitioner on a regular basis because the source of the problem is not being addressed.
The traditional approach to therapy can become very costly and only provides temporarily pain relief. On the other hand, ASTR® is a technique that evaluates soft tissue dysfunction, which is oftentimes the source of the problem. By using gentle maneuvers, which release the soft tissue restriction, the joint usually gets back to normal alignment within the same session of the treatment. The result is long-term because it addresses the source of the problem; instead of simply focusing on the symptoms.
4. Soft Tissue Fibrosis (Scar Tissue):
Soft Tissue Fibrosis can cause excessive pressure on the muscles, blood vessels, nerves, bones and organs. Excessive pressure can cause pain and may decrease joint range of motion. The Fascia NeutralizerTM is a very valuable tool that can easily release soft tissue adhesion quickly, without causing pain.
How is ASTR®Performed :
1. Fascia NeutralizerTM :
Fascia NeutralizerTM is a revolutionary tool created by Doctor Jacobs to help clinicians release soft tissue adhesions/ fascia restrictions and hypertonicity in a matter of seconds. He created this tool to decrease the stress on clinician’s hands. When used, the Fascia ActivatorTM can quickly and effectively release myofascial restriction compared to using one’s hands.
2. Clinican Hands:
ASTR® Clinician uses a variety of ways to decrease muscle hypertonicity and trigger points such as: muscle contraction, passive range of motion, reciprocal inhibition, finger vibration, muscle/ tendon gliding, pressure points release. Dr Jacobs created more than 125 different maneuverers and specific protocols for each soft tissue dysfunction, which relieves pain and releases soft tissue dysfunctions in just a few sessions.
3. Special exercise programs and protocols:
Doctor Jacobs has developed a special combination of exercise protocols for each dysfunction. These exercises are used in order to balance the muscles that have been effected by the dysfunction in order to return patients to full function.
Doctor Jacobs created the following scales to help clinicians have an objective assessment for soft tissue impairments.
- Fascia ScaleTM
- Hypertonicity ScaleTM
- Trigger Point ScaleTM
- Adhesion ScaleTM
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