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IASTM - ASTYM - Gua Sha - Graston Technique: Definition, Methods, Research Studies & Treatment

Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM) is a method used to release fascia, restricted tissue, and scar tissue. The tools used in IASTM commonly result in limiting rehabilitation by increasing myofascial restrictions and failing to relieve pain. 

Common methods of IASTM include:

What is Gua Sha?

Gua Sha is the practice of scraping the skin with tools to reduce tension and pain. The chinese technique of Gua Sha is commonly used to rebalance a person’s chi- the energy that circulates through the body.

What is Augmented Soft Tissue Mobilization (ASTYM)?

Augmented Soft Tissue Mobilization (ASTYM) works to activate the physiological response that results in the restoration of soft tissue by producing the changes at the cellular level. By creating microtraumas, ASTYM works to start a healing process that will eliminate excessive scar tissue.

What is Graston Technique?

Graston technique is desgined to break down scar tisue and minimize restriction using specially designed stainless steel tools against the skin to increase muscle mobilization. Like other IASTM techniques, Graston works to produce microtraumas in hopes of creating inflammation to kickstart the healing process. 

What is ASTR Treatment?

ASTR, Advanced Soft Tissue Release, is a biopsychosocial method that uses special tools, maneuvers and theories to address the source of pain in a holisitc manner. By working on a variety of aspects including scar tissue, fascia restriction, trigger points, muscle spasms, mindset and behavioral habits, ASTR has resulted in high success rates for giving its patients long term pain relief.

ASTR vs. IASTM Research Studies

Systematic reviews completed during control trials by Cheatham, et. al have studied IASTM and its subsequent treatments of Gua Sha, ASTYM, and Graston. These studies reported that there is litttle evidence showing beneficial results for its recipients. Most results have shown short-term improvement for range of motion, but fails to sufficently treat musculoskeletal pathology using current methods and tools.

In comparison, a study completed by Jacobs, et. al investigated the length of time and effectiveness of ASTR in treating neck injuries. At the time of follow up appointments,  87% of patients reported being pain free. After three treatments, patient’s visual analog scale was reduced and remained low through the follow-up treatments. 

While research has shown that IASTM can result in temporary pain relief, ASTR continues to effectively treat the source of the injury and results in both long- and short- term pain relief. 

Effective Treatment 

ASTR treats muscle & joint pain in a gentle, effective, and natural way by addressing muscle imbalances, scar tissue, trigger points, fascia restrictions, inflammation, posture, body mechanics which are often the source of the pain. ASTR takes a holistic approach to address the root causes of pain, not just the symptoms. ASTR treatment can be done at home for muscle & joint pain.

ASTR IASTM/ Graston/ Gua Sha
Long-term results X
Ergonomically designed X
Pain-free treatment X
Superficial scar tissue release
Deep scar tissue release X
Myofascial release X
Trigger point release X
Decrease inflammation X
Exercise protocols X
Treatment protocols X
Biopsychosocial model X

Self IASTM Home Treatment

Pain Relief Made Easy At Home

ASTR Exceptionally Different

Reviews collected from various websites


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