What is Active Release Technique or ART?

Active Release Technique or ART was first patented by P. Michael Leahy, a certified chiropractic sports physician who created his signature method to treat patients dealing with a wide array of chronic pains or injuries. Active Release Technique or ART is a soft tissue method that focuses on relieving tissue tension via the removal of fibrosis/adhesions which can develop in tissues as a result of overload due to repetitive use. These disorders may lead to muscular weakness, numbness, aching, tingling and burning sensations. The conditions that ART is used to help treat naturally, often without the use of mediation, are those that affect fascia, major muscle groups, tendons and ligaments.

How Active Release Technique or ART works?

The core benefit of ART is preventing and breaking up dense scar tissue, also called adhesions. Adhesions limit the normal range of motion of joints and muscles because they cause abnormal binding between muscle groups, are very tough and are inflexible compared to healthy tissue.
According to the Active Release Techniques website, soft tissue manipulations address several components related to scar tissue formation:

  • acute injuries, including tears or collisions that can happen during exercise or sports
  • micro-trauma, which is the gradual wear-down of tissue that’s often caused from aging and inflammation
  • hypoxia, which results from tissue not receiving enough nutrients and oxygen

Active Release Technique or ART benefits

  • Increase flexibility
  • Improves range of motion
  • Reduces chronic lower back pain
  • Treats Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Helps prevent running injuries and improve performance

Some of the problems most commonly treated through ART treatments include:

  • Low back pain
  • Shin splints
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Tension headaches
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Shoulder strains, including frozen shoulder
  • Tennis elbow
  • Sciatic nerve pain/ Sciatica

How Active Release Technique or ART is different than massage therapy?

ART is different than massage therapy or stretching because it targets the underlying problem that causes pain and helps to actually break up existing adhesions. Stretching can help stop adhesions from forming in the first place when done at the right time and in the right way, but will not treat scar tissue that has already formed. This doesn’t mean that you should skip stretching all together; however, it just means that you might require more targeted techniques to resolve an injury or chronic pain.

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