What is Active Release Technique?
The official ART web site describes ART as " 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.”
Basically it is an advanced movement-based massage system, which is extremely effective for accurately locating the cause of soft-tissue conditions and effectively resolving (or greatly improving) overuse and strain/sprain conditions."
Active Release Techniques treatment is a hands-on touch and case-management system that allows a practitioner to diagnose and treat soft-tissue injuries. Soft tissue refers primarily to muscle, tendon, fascia, and nerves. ART combines motion by the patient with hands-on techniques that release the adhesions between tissue layers. This process restores mobility and relative motion to the soft-tissue layers, increases circulatory function, and increases neurological function by breaking and releasing restrictive adhesions. Specific injuries that apply are repetitive strains, cumulative trauma, adhesions, tissue hypoxia, and joint dysfunction.
How do overuse conditions occur?
Over-used muscles (and other soft tissues) change in three important ways:
-acute conditions (pulls, tears, collisions, etc),
-accumulation of small tears (micro-trauma)
-not getting enough oxygen (hypoxia)
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.
Each of these factors 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. As scar tissue builds up, muscles become shorter and weaker, tension on tendons causes tendonitis, and nerves can become trapped. This can cause reduced range of motion, loss of strength, and pain. If a nerve is trapped you may also feel tingling, numbness, and weakness.
What is an ART treatment like?
These specific treatment protocols - over 500 specific moves - are unique to ART. They allow providers to identify and correct the specific problems that are affecting each individual patient.
ART can sometimes be uncomfortable to the patient but communication is key and the patient should work along with their provider to ensure that it is tolerable and remains therapeutic.
Development of Chronic Soft Tissue Injury Cycle
One of the functions of the circulatory system is to act as a delivery system for oxygen (O2), which is carried by the blood. Tissues such as muscle, ligaments, bone, and nerves utilize this oxygen in order to produce energy with which they carry out their daily functions. The circulation of blood is also used in order to remove waste products created by the tissues as they perform their tasks.
When a tissue is kept in a tightened or stressed position for a prolonged period of time, the blood supply to that tissue becomes compromised. Some examples in which this may occur is during prolonged endurance sports where the muscles are constantly being used; during repetitive tasks at work; or with poor posture where muscles are constantly being stressed. When an oxygen dependant tissue (such as muscle) does not receive enough oxygen (and thus energy) to function, this is referred to as "tissue hypoxia". If presented with this situation, your body will begin to replace oxygen dependant tissue with tissue that doesn’t require as much oxygen to function…this tissue is called "Fibrotic tissue" or "Scar tissue". As scar tissue is deposited into the tissue, the function of the tissue is severely hindered. Using the example of muscle tissue, a scarred or fibrotic muscle will be unable to contract properly, and thus will be unable to carry out its desired function. Therefore your body will begin recruit other muscles compensate for the injured muscle. As these muscles begin to do the job of two muscles they remain tight, become hypoxic, develop scar tissue…and the cycle continues
In addition to causing tissue dysfunction, scar tissue (also known as adhesions):
- Limits the available range of motion in the tissue
- Is a high friction substance thus irritates nerves causing pain
- Has the ability to cause tissues to "stick" (or adhere) to each other thus resulting in increased friction between tissues
What is the history of Active Release Techniques?
ART 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 an extremely high percentage of his patients' problems. He now teaches and certifies health care providers all over the world t use ART.
When used in combination with a specifically tailored rehabilitation program, A. R. T. can help the body regenerate new tissues and correct biomechanical faults cause by adhesion development.
The healing potential of Active Rlease Techniques extends to a wide range of medical conditions. Some of the problems most effectively treated are listed below.
• repetitive strain injuries
• sports specific injuries
• carpal tunnel syndrome
• relfex sympathetic dystrophy
• rotator cuff tears
• temporo-mandibular joint dysfunction
• tennis/golf elbow
• achilles tendonitis