Active Release Technique – 3 Ways It Can Benefit You

Active Release Technique - 3 Ways It Can Benefit You

You may have a strain in your shoulder or back that causes pain after overuse. This injury may have occurred a long time ago, but it’s as if the muscles and ligaments around it are still easily aggravated. Active Release Technique helps people just like you who experience soft tissue damage from inflammation, built-up scar tissue, or pinched nerves.

Here at Today’s Integrative Health, we use the ART technique with our patients. This is a look at the technique and how it is used.

What Is Active Release Technique?

Active Release Techniques, also known as ART, is a muscular rehabilitative treatment that focuses on resolving tension within tissues throughout the body. This soft tissue therapy helps break up scar tissue and knots that develop over time. Art – Active Release Technique was created by a chiropractic doctor named Dr. P.Michael Leahy.

How Can It Help

Your soft tissue is a highly sensitive part of your body. It holds a great deal of tenseness and is prone to trauma from past injuries. During an ART appointment, your doctor will massage the affected area vigorously to try and break up these areas of constant tension. While doing so, the doctor will instruct you to move your body in a longitudinal up and down motion, which will allow your nerves, ligaments, and muscles to loosen. This tension could lead to tension headaches, loss of motion, and extended injury without effective treatment.

Here are a few common conditions ART is used to help with:

  • Neck Pain
  • Headaches
  • Back Pain
  • Shin Splints
  • Frozen Shoulder
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Sciatic Nerve Pain
  • Tennis Elbow
  • Bursitis
  • Shoulder Pain
  • Trigger Thumb
  • Adductor Strains
  • Knee Problems

If you are struggling with some of these issues, then ART may be able to help.

3 Focus Points

Active Release Technique focuses on three parts of the body: fascia, muscles, and tendons/ligaments. Fascia is the connective tissue made of collagen that surrounds every body part and muscle in our body. When inflamed, it causes tightness and discomfort. Muscles often become sore from overuse or can develop strains or tears, which result in scar tissue build-up. Tendons and ligaments connect bone to one another. Having a tendon or ligament tear can be just as painful as experiencing a broken bone. Supporting these crucial parts of the body help make each part work as it was intended to.

3 Ways Active Release Technique Can Benefit You

The use of ART allows practitioners to treat people who suffer with various ailments. Research is still being conducted on the effectiveness of ART but the results so far have been very promising. Here are 3 ways it can help benefit you:

Do-It-Yourself Technique

Rob DeStefano is a chiropractor and also an Ironman athlete who took the Active Release Technique a step further. He came up with the Facilitated Active Stretch Technique also known as FAST. This method allows you to put pressure on affected areas while moving in every direction.

An example of this may involve a tense shoulder. Basically, you hold one arm out in front of you while your other arm pushes down on the ridge-like muscle between your shoulders and your neck. You then place the other hand on your lower back.

While in this position holding pressure to these spots you slowly tilt your head in opposite directions. You return back to neutral gaze and repeat this process over again while moving the pressure up your shoulders and onto your neck. This exercise will help relieve upper-body tension.

Chiropractors are all too familiar with sports-related injuries, old and new. Old injuries may be difficult to resolve as they tend to develop scar tissue and inflammatory tissue around the affected area. If this is something you deal with, ART can help restore mobility and reduce inflammation. Most patients find relief within 4-6 treatments.

There are numerous case report studies regarding patients who receive ART to heal their sports-related injuries. For example, should a patient who is an athlete suffering from chronic external coxa saltans claim to have a 50% reduction of pain symptoms after simply one visit. After 4 ART treatments, the athlete felt no pain at all, only a light snapping when the part of her body moved. After the last treatment, the snapping dissipated entirely.

Helps With Carpal Tunnel

4 to 10 million Americans suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome. Not being able to use your hands can feel so debilitating at times. Chronic pain and tingling can cause difficulty carrying out the simplest of tasks. Active Release Technique shows tremendous benefits in alleviating these symptoms.

This study was conducted on 5 patients who were diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome received treatment for 2 weeks. After 2 weeks the patients experienced significant improvements in their pain levels and ability to use their hands.

How to Know If This Technique Is Right For You?

Many are familiar with the saying,” No Pain, No Gain.” It might sound painful to rub and maneuver a problematic area but the truth, in this case, is that a little discomfort can equate to even more relief. People who do not tolerate pain well may find this technique very challenging. Many patients utilize breathing exercises to help them focus on visualizing their pain leaving and muscles relaxing. The mind is very powerful and determines what the body will do.

Preventative Measures

Even after the treatment is over and the pain is gone there are some important measures a doctor takes to keep the pain from returning. There are some important post ART treatment protocols patients must adopt like stretching daily. Failing to maintain good flexibility will result in recurrent injury and restriction of movement.

Conditioning and cardio exercises are essential activities to incorporate post ART. Establishing a good strength training regiment will keep muscles from growing weak and overcompensating which reintroduces imbalances throughout the body. Cardiovascular movement increases blood circulation and oxygen levels to healthy tissue. Kinesthetic and balancing exercises also build strength and agility which prevents re-injury.

Active Release Technique

Therapeutic massage and physical therapy combine to create the world of Active Release Technique. Deeply rooted in myofascial release therapy which also uses manual therapy to release pain and tension from connective tissue. It is set apart because of longitudinal movements. This technique has grown in popularity as the benefits become more widely known.

Contact the staff here at Today’s Integrative Health when you are ready to schedule an appointment. We are proud to serve those that live in Rockville, MD and surrounding areas. We look forward to hearing from you! You can also call us on 301-770-6650


Picture of Dr. L. J. Leo

Dr. L. J. Leo

Dr. Leo began his education at the Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine in Blacksburg, Virginia, where he earned his doctorate in osteopathy. He completed his internal medicine residency through the U.S. Army and had the honor of serving multiple overseas tours before retirement.

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