Advanced Soft Tissue Release® (ASTR) is a biopsychosocial treatment model that utilizes unique ASTR instruments, maneuvers, theories and methodologies. ASTR treatment includes working on multiple aspects including: scar tissue, fascia restriction, trigger points, muscles spasms, ergonomics, gait, exercise, nutrition, inflammation, stress management, and behavior modification.
ASTR is a revolutionary specialty developed by Dr. Joseph Jacobs, DPT. ASTR specialty is a holistic and multifaceted approach to treating the source of soft tissue restriction in a way that is virtually pain-free and highly effective. Advanced Soft Tissue Release involves the use of the clinician’s hands, ASTR tools, customized exercises, and patient-specific protocols to address all elements of soft tissue dysfunction in a gentle way that has a beneficial effect on the body’s neuromuscular and musculoskeletal systems.
How is ASTR Different from Traditional Medical Approaches?
Traditional medical approaches for treating soft tissue pain utilize heat/cold packs, electrical stimulation, ultrasound, massage, stretching, exercises, and pain medication. Temporary relief can be achieved with these methods, but more often than not, the pain returns because these techniques only treat the symptoms and not the true source of the pain. As pain returns, patients are required to see their practitioner on a regular basis for treatment. This continuous treatment can be quite costly!
With ASTR, the evaluation and treatment are focused on finding and addressing the source of the problem, rather than the symptoms alone. ASTR promotes healing in the body by releasing scar tissue, fascia restriction, and trigger points. Treatment is virtually pain-free and provides long-term relief!
What Conditions Can ASTR Treat?
ASTR is capable of addressing the majority of soft tissue problems to includeTMJ/jaw pain, sciatica, arthritis, headaches, neck and back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, bursitis, and so much more!The following are evaluated and treated with ASTR:
Soft Tissue Fibrosis (Scar Tissue)
What is Scar Tissue? Scar tissue forms throughout the body in response to tissue damage in order to temporarily repair an injury site until stronger, more permanent tissue is made. During the normal healing process, most temporary scar tissue is reabsorbed into the body after the permanent tissue has been made. Occasionally, the healing process is disrupted and too much scar tissue is formed, placing excessive pressure on surrounding muscles, blood vessels, nerves, bones, and organs. This can cause pain and/or limit a joint’s range of motion.
How ASTR Can Help: With ASTR’s tools, these soft tissue adhesions are painlessly and efficiently released, relieving pain and restoring range of motion.
What is Fascia Restriction? Similar to the way Spiderman’s suit hugs his body, fascia is strong, connective tissue that wraps our bodies from head to toe. Normally, fascia is elastic and able to stretch and shorten in response to the body’s movements. Accidents, traumas, surgeries, scar tissue, stress, poor posture, and poor body mechanics can decrease the fascia’s elasticity resulting in pain and a limited range of motion.
How ASTR Can Help: Based on clinical findings, symptoms of fascial restriction often mimic those of nerve impairments. Patients complain of roundish pain, numbness, tingling, soreness, and tightness yet the location of pain doesn’t correspond with normal nerve sites. Current imaging tests can prove unreliable as it cannot indicate fascial restriction. Dr. Jacobs created the Myofascial/Fascia ScaleTM so clinicians have an objective way to quantify fascial restriction. ASTR tools also provide an effective way of quickly releasing myofascial restrictions without pain.
Trigger Points, Muscle Spasms, & Golgi Tendon Organs:
What are Trigger Points, Muscle Spasms, & Golgi Tendon Organs? Trigger points are palpable knots in muscle tissue. Their presence can cause pain and muscle shortening, or muscle spasms. Muscle spasm is excessive muscle tone (in comparison to the feeling of normal muscle) detected by palpation of the muscle while in a resting position.
Golgi Tendon Organs (GTO’s) are a type of sensory receptor found in muscles. There are multiple GTO’s in each muscle of the body, located near the muscle-tendon junction, and their function is to inhibit muscle contraction when the muscle fibers are stretched past a certain point. In essence, GTO’s decrease muscle tension and promote muscle relaxation. In contrast, alpha motor neurons stimulate the muscle to increase tension by contracting. When a muscle gets too tense, GTO’s fire, turning off the alpha motor neurons and decreasing tension in the muscle, releasing trigger points, and encouraging relaxation.
A good analogy for this system is to imagine a muscle having two switches, one switch that turns the muscle on (alpha motor neuron) and a second switch that turns the muscle off (GTO’s). Imagine a person who sits hunched over his or her computer for many hours every day. The alpha motor neurons of the muscles associated with this posture are constantly switched on, and the improper posture becomes habitual for the nervous system. Continuous activation of these muscles over time causes myriad impairments including soft tissue pain, muscle strain, scar tissue formation, increased muscle tension, trigger points, fascia restriction, and limited range of motion.
How ASTR Can Help: The ASTR specialty involves neuromuscular re-education as it targets the Golgi Tendon Organs of muscles to relieve muscle hypertonicity, spasms, soft tissue pain, and trigger points.
What is Joint Displacement: All of the joints in our bodies have a normal alignment, describing how two adjacent bones are positioned and move in relation to one another. Joint displacement refers to any deviation in that normal alignment. Restriction in soft tissue can often cause a joint to become displaced. This can be extremely painful and can place a lot of stress on the joint and surrounding structures.
How ASTR Can Help: ASTR evaluates the soft tissue dysfunction, which is often the cause of the displacement. With gentle maneuvers to release soft tissue restriction, ASTR indirectly facilitates the joint’s return to normal alignment, sometimes within the same treatment session. This result is long-term because the source of the displacement is treated instead of simply focusing on the symptoms.
ASTR’s Holistic Approach
ASTR is not just the unique techniques and maneuvers used by ASTR clinicians during manual therapy. It is a holistic approach. Clinicians look at a patient’s lifestyle, diet, and mindset in addition to their presenting issue. All of the following elements will be evaluated throughout ASTR treatment:
- Scar Tissue
- Trigger Points
- Muscle Spasms
- Fascia Restriction
- Lifestyle Analysis
- Posture Analysis
- Gait Analysis
- Basic Nutrition
This holistic approach is part of the reason why 87% of patients experience long-term pain relief!
How ASTR is Performed:
1. ASTR Instruments: ASTR tools are cutting-edge instruments created by Dr. Jacobs to aid clinicians in releasing soft tissue adhesions, myofascial restrictions, and hypertonicity in a matter of seconds. Not only do these tools decrease stress on a clinicians’ hands, ASTR tools are actually faster and more effective for releasing myofascial restriction and scar tissue.
2. Clinician Hands: ASTR clinicians use more than 125 different maneuvers involving muscle contraction, passive range of motion, reciprocal inhibition, finger vibration, muscle/tendon gliding, and pressure point release to decrease muscle hypertonicity and trigger points. These maneuvers are arranged into specific protocols for each soft tissue dysfunction, and can relieve pain and release soft tissue dysfunctions in just a few seconds.
3. Exercise Programs and Protocols: For each dysfunction, Dr. Jacobs has developed an exercise protocol with a special combination of stretches and exercises. When performed according the protocol, these exercises help return patients to full function.
The following scales have been established to help clinicians make objective assessments of soft tissue impairments:
- Fascia ScaleTM
- Trigger Point ScaleTM
- Hypertonicity ScaleTM
- Fibrosis (Scar Tissue) ScaleTM
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