Active Release Techniques




The Gold Standard in Soft Tissue Treatment

What is ART?
ART is a highly advanced soft tissue system/movement based massage technique that treats problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and nerves. ART was developed nearly 30 years ago in the United States by Dr. Michael Leahy. Its high success rate has made it very popular across North America, and is now beginning to emerge in Europe. Headaches, back pain, shoulder pain, sciatica are just a few of the many conditions that can be resolved quickly and permanently with ART. These conditions all have one thing in common they are often the result of overused muscles.

How do overuse conditions occur?
Over-used muscles (and other soft tissues) are affected in three ways:

  1. Injury resulting in pulls, tears, sprains and strains
  2. Repetitive strain leading to an accumulation of small tears (micro-trauma)
  3. Muscle tension, pressure, friction causing tissue hypoxia (not getting enough oxygen)

Each of these causes can lead your body to produce tough, dense scar tissue at the injury site. Scar tissue builds up and ties tissues down preventing them from moving freely. As scar tissue accumulates, muscles become progressively shorter and weaker, tension on tendons causes tendonitis, and nerves can become trapped. This can cause reduced range of movement, loss of strength and pain. If a nerve is trapped you may also feel numbness, tingling and weakness.

What is an ART treatment like?
Each ART session is 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, nerves. Abnormal tissues are treated by combining a precisely directed tension with very specific patient movements. Treatments can be uncomfortable during the treatment movement as adhesions or scar tissue break up. The discomfort is temporary and usually disappears immediately after treatment. Symptoms are commonly reproduced during treatment. This is nothing to worry about and is actually a good indicator that your problem has been identified.
The patient plays an active part in an ART treatment for a number of reasons:

  1. The patient feels that they are in control of the treatment process. This makes treatment more comfortable because it allows the patient to modify treatment speed and position according to the perceived treatment response.
  2. The patient’s movements more closely resemble the requirements of the soft tissues during normal use. These requirements include the relative motion between tissues and the neurological feedback that controls motion.
  3. Patient controlled motion causes neurological perception of movement and position which causes a neural input to travel through the body’s pain pathways blocking pain signals and reducing the level of pain felt by the patient.

Results from treatment are typically felt or demonstrated immediately.

Maintaining High Standards
Most ART providers are fully qualified osteopaths, physiotherapists or chiropractors who have already undertaken 4-5 years of training and have continued with further specialist training in Active Release Techniques. ART is patented to protect the public by promoting high standards by ensuring that practitioners are fully trained. To maintain certification ART practitioners must undertake yearly training in ART protocols.