I previously blogged about how I had tried both acupuncture and dry needling for my plantar fasciitis (which you can read about here ). Following the dry needling, my PT Terri Cassel (and her co-worker, John Tunnel, who’s certified and taught Terri) decided to see how my PF responded to ASTYM treatments. ASTYM is like the PT version of Graston– rather than using stainless steel tools like Graston, they use hard plastic tools. They basically scrape the area that has scar tissue (which is hard/bound up/tight, like a spider web), and this re-stimulates the healing process so the tissue can heal “aligned”. They only do a few strokes (calf, heel, foot, Achilles), as the treatment takes less than 15 min..
What I found is the large, hard, scar tissue knot on my heel, which felt like it was bruising the calcaneus bone with every step, became soft and crunchy with the ASTYM treatments… no longer bruising my heel with every step! You have to stretch after the treatments, and they recommend remaining active through the treatments. As the scar tissue becomes soft and more pliable, you’re trying to stretch the soft tissue back to it’s normal length. Over time, the knot on my heel has shrunk. They said it would take 6-8 treatments to feel a difference, getting the recommended twice a week treatments. I went up to Tulsa twice a week for 4 weeks, and then we did 2 more once-a-week treatments (so 10 treatments total).
Furthermore, I took 2 weeks completely off after the Lincoln Marathon, to see if complete rest would help my foot heal. I think the rest helped it heal just enough and get strong again, so I could return to running successfully.
Last week I finally “graduated” from PT! I’m back on my second week of running and mechanically feeling the best I’v felt since last summer! I would say of all the treatment methods I’ve tried since last August, ASTYM is the one thing that my foot responded to the best. I definitely needed a direct and more aggressive treatment to help break-up the hard knot on my heel. Additionally, they did some ASTYM on my bum hamstring I hurt last summer at Grandma’s, and that helped as well (along with dry needling). I learned through this that I was being too aggressive at home (and inflaming it!), when I tried to scrape my heel with the ~handle of my butter knife, spatula, and other self-massage and stretching techniques. LEAVE THIS TECHNIQUE TO THE PROFESSIONALS!
Otherwise, I’ve chronicled the things my foot has responded to the best since I tore my plantar fascia last August:
- Minimalist shoes– firm and flexible being the key shoe components
- Barefoot running 0n undulating grass
- ART and acupuncture (initially); Dry needling later on for more focal treatment
- The Foot Log, which I got 2 weeks ago and is quite amazing, like running barefoot on undulating grass! This guy details how to use it: Foot Log
- Birkenstock sandals– which I also just got 2 weeks ago. I seriously feel like I bought the Mercedes of sandals! While these seem contrary to barefoot running/minimalist shoes, they actually do feel good. Because your toes kinda have to grip the footbed/toe bar to keep them on your feet… I think that somehow helps the plantar fascia. I tried these on in the store to make sure I got the right size, so I recommend doing this.