Advanced Soft Tissue Release®(ASTR®)
Advanced Soft Tissue Release (ASTR) is a state of the art, manual therapy specialty (patents), created by Doctor Joseph Jacobs (doctor of physical therapy). ASTR is a very gentle manual technique that has a positive effect on the neuromuscular and musculoskeletal systems in the body through utilizing the clinician's hands, ASTR's Tools (patented), and special exercise programs and protocols to relieve soft tissue pain and impairments. ASTR is a systematic approach to evaluate and treat soft tissue pain and impairment associated with temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder (Jaw Pain), headaches, muscle pain, joint pain, trigger points, myofascial restriction, and soft tissue fibrosis (scar tissue).
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®:
ASTR Treatment Elements:
- Scar tissue
- Trigger points
- Muscle spasm
- Fascia restriction
- Lifestyle analysis
- Posture analysis
- Gait analysis
1. 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. ASTR Tools are very valuable and effective tools that can easily release soft tissue adhesions quickly, without causing pain.
2. Myofascial - 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. Myofascia or 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 Myofascial/ Fascia ScaleTM, in order to help clinicians have an objective measure to assess fascia restriction. ASTR Tools are very valuable and effective tools that can easily release myofascial restrictions quickly, without causing pain.
3. Muscle Spasm & 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.
4. 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.
How is ASTR Performed :
1. ASTR Tools :
ASTR Tools are revolutionary tools, created by Doctor Jacobs to help clinicians release soft tissue adhesions/ myofascial restrictions and hypertonicity in a matter of seconds. He created these tools, in order to quickly release soft tissue impairments and decrease the stress on clinician’s hands. ASTR Tools can quickly and effectively release myofascial restriction and scar tissue 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 maneuvers 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
- Trigger Point ScaleTM
- Hypertonicity ScaleTM
- Fibrosis (Scar) ScaleTM
To read case studies, click here
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