Active Release Technique – A.R.T.
How Can ART Help Me?
What is Active Release Technique (ART®)? Active Release Techniques 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 Active Release Techniques. These conditions all have one important thing in common: they are often a result of overused muscles. Overused muscles are common and most people never fix these issues. In order to understand how we can fix these problems you must understand how muscles get overused.
How do overuse conditions occur?
There are many ways that an individual can develop over-used muscles. One of the most common methods is simply over training. Many athletes train day after day without giving themselves time to recover which causes over-used muscles to develop. Another common method that goes overlooked is poor posture. When muscles are used for a long period of time, yet don’t have the ability to relax, the muscles will become tired and fatigued. Pushing past this point of being fatigued is interpreted by the body as the tissues being stressed and over-used. Overused muscles (and other soft tissues) change in three important methods:
- Acute conditions (pulls, tears, collisions, etc) – in these circumstances there is a significant trauma that has occurred the grossly damages the tissue
- Accumulation of small tears (micro-trauma) – microtraumas are the result of training on fatigued muscles, tendons, ligaments, and fascia that has become tightened and frayed as a result of the excessive training
- Not getting enough oxygen (hypoxia) – when muscles become chronically tight, blood flow becomes restricted to the area. If blood flow can not get into the tissue, the result is a lack of oxygen to the tissue (hypoxia)
When you experience any of these factors your body can go into very specific and predictable phase of healing. The first phase of healing is the Inflammatory Phase when you can experience redness, swelling and soreness in the area of the damaged tissue. The next phase is the Repair Phase which can cause your body to produce tough, dense scar tissue in the affected area. This scar tissue binds up and ties down tissues that need to move freely. When you look at the scar tissue under a microscope, it looks like overlapping spiderwebs. When the scar tissue is laid down and builds up, muscles become shorter and weaker, tension on tendons cause tendonitis, and nerves can become trapped. The scar tissue accumulation has several effects. The first effect is that there is a reduced range of motion and loss of strength due to the restricted function of the muscles, tendons and nerves. If a nerve is trapped you may also feel tingling, numbness, and weakness. The second effect is that there is decreased circulation to the tissue which slows down the rate of recovery and will cause tissues to fatigue faster. The third effect is that there will be an increase in pain to the area as scar tissue has ten times more free nerve endings than healthy tissue. The body does this to be that much more aware of the area so that you don’t do any further damage to the already injured tissue.
What is an Active Release Techniques treatment like?
Every ART session is actually a combination of examination and treatment. The ART 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 concept of the technique is very simple in theory, yet the skills to effectively perform the technique can be difficult for the untrained hand to perform. For an effective treatment to take place, the Active Release Techniques provider needs to have the ability to palpate and identify each and every structure during the examination and treatment. This examination allows the ART provider to identify the muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and fascial components in the different areas of the body that are being evaluated. Each individual structure and specific interfaces have treatment protocols that are intended to break up the scar tissue, restore normal motion, increase circulation to the damaged tissue, and improve the overall environment of the tissue to promote healing.
These treatment protocols – over 700 specific moves – are unique to Active Release Techniques. They allow providers to identify and correct the specific problems that are affecting each individual patient. Active Release Techniques is not a cookie-cutter approach. During an examination and treatment, an Active Release Techniques provider will assess your range of motion while determining the tissue texture, tension, and motion of the area that you are experiencing pain. Many times a patient will experience pain in one area and the ART provider will have to follow the path of tension from the area of pain to the area of the cause of pain. It is important to make sure that the Active Release Techniques provider is in current standing and up to date on the most current Active Release Techniques protocols so that you can receive the highest quality of ART therapy available.
What is the history of Active Release Techniques?
Active Release Techniques has been developed, refined, and patented by P. Michael Leahy, DC, CCSP. Dr. Leahy noticed that his patients’ symptoms seemed to be related to changes in their soft tissue that could be felt by hand. By observing how muscles, fascia, tendons, ligaments and nerves responded to different types of work, Dr. Leahy was able to consistently resolve over 90% of his patients’ problems. Over the past few years, Dr. Leahy and his network of instructors have continued to expand the knowledge base of Active Release Techniques with the goal to make Active Release Techniques the “Gold Standard” of soft tissue treatment. He now teaches and certifies health care providers all over the world to use ART.