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What is ASTYMTM or ASTM and gua sha?

ASTYMTM and gua sha are techniques that utilize a plastic, jade or horn tool to scrape the skin.

TheASTYMTM System is a new approach in manual therapy that uses instruments to target problems in the 'fibrous net' of soft tissues. It stimulates the natural healing process, so instead of treating symptoms we actually treat the pain-generator.

The ASTYMTM System could be compared to combing out a clump of "tangled" strands frequently found in long hair. With this analogy, the instruments can be compared to a comb, and the macrophages (white blood cells that work like PACMAN chomping down on the damaged collagen fibers) and the fibroblasts (that lay down new collagen fibers) could be thought of as the body's own detangler spray used to unlock knots and snarls of fibrosis or scar adhesions.

Just like combing long hair frequently and using conditioner helps prevents tangles, the patient is asked to stretch and exercise during the healing process so the new collagen being laid down does not end up in "tangles" but instead lines up in parallel with the line of tension.

Fibrosis (excessive formation of tangled collagen) is thought to "strangle" the capillary blood vessels in the region. If capillary blood supply is limited or restricted by excessive collagen fibers then cells in the area become unhealthy. This is like the difference in water quality in a mountain stream versus a swamp.

Muscles may also become "strangled" by fibrosis (scar tissue formation). If these muscles are not able to fully contract (i.e., shorten their length and thicken), they become dysfunctional and weak and range motion is restricted.

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