I would like to introduce you to Active Release Therapy. I have recently added this technique to my treatment plans since becoming certified. I feel this is one of the best techniques available to us and very underutilized. It isn’t for everyone but for most of us who have been struggling with chronic pain, it can change everything. While it is ideal and has been created for the athlete, and any one with a repetitive motion injury, it can be used for many conditions where there has been a build up of scar tissue, nerve entrapment and fascial adhesions.
Here is a summary of what ART® is and how it works.
Dr. Leahy, the founder and inventor describes it best:
“Active Release Technique® (ART®)is a patented, state of the art soft tissue system/movement based massage technique that treats problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and nerves. Headaches, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, shin splints, shoulder pain, sciatica, plantar fasciitis, knee problems, and tennis elbow are just a few of the many conditions that can be resolved quickly and permanently with ART. These conditions all have one important thing in common: they are often a result of overused muscles.” *1
When muscles (and other soft tissues) are overused, three types of problems may result:
- Acute conditions such as pulls, tears, muscle spasm or contracture, etc.
- Small tears resulting from repetitive motion (also known as micro-trauma)
- Hypoxia or a lack of oxygen to the injured area
Your body responds to these occurrences by producing tough, dense scar tissue in the problem area. This scar tissue restricts healthy tissues, preventing them from moving freely. As more scar tissue builds, your muscles weaken and become shorter, nerves can become trapped, and the tension that is placed on the tendons might even cause tendon inflammation or tendonitis. Eventually, all of this leads to a reduced range of motion, loss of strength, and pain. In cases where a nerve is trapped, you might experience tingling, numbness, and weakness.*1
An ART® session is both an examination and a treatment. As the ART® website explains, “the provider uses his or her hands to evaluate the texture, tightness, and movement of muscles, fascia, tendons, ligaments, and nerves. Abnormal tissues are treated by combining precisely directed tension with very specific patient movements.” The specific techniques that are used vary according to the needs of the patient.*1