What is Active Release Techniques (ART)?

ART – Active Release TechniqueART is a patented soft tissue manual therapy system, with over 500 specific protocols, which releases pain that is unnecessarily carried by millions of people each and every day, year after year. ART goes right to the source of pain and dysfunction to help normalize muscle, tendons, ligaments, nerves and fascia (Next Blog Post will focus on Fascia), which over time, builds up tough, dense scar tissue. This scar tissue not only restricts normal movement but also causes muscles to become both shorter and weaker, making them susceptible to strains, pulls and other soft tissue injuries.

ART is extremely effective for treating the following: headaches, TMJ/TMD, neck pain, back pain, shoulder pain, frozen shoulder, Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, tennis/golfer’s elbow, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, hip pain, Piriformis Syndrome, shin splints, Plantar Fasciitis, muscle strains and ligament sprains, Achilles Tendonitis, just to note a few. ART can assist virtually anyone suffering from a soft tissue injury, pain or restriction.

Restricted and tight muscles increases tension on tendons, resulting in tendonitis and possibly entrapping nerves. Tight muscles and fascia, also restricts much needed blood and oxygen, leading to unhealthy tissue and laying down even more scar tissue. Entrapped nerves can cause radiating pain, numbness, tingling and weakness.

These restrictions, over time, will lead to compensation patterns in an individual’s normal gait or movement patterns. These compensation patterns, which may seem perhaps minor at first, can lead to joints which deteriorate faster. This can cause pain and dysfunction in one’s ankle, knee, vertebral discs of the back and neck and shoulder pain, often leading to arthritis, back pain and is a key factor in the rapid influx of Joint Replacements.

I believe that much of the joint pain that individuals suffer from could be significantly reduced, if adhesions and resulting scar tissue were effectively treated at the time of injury or discomfort, instead of 10, 20 or 30 years of movement with a muscle imbalance. This also speaks to a regular maintenance program that would keep muscles and fascia, healthy and highly functional.

Adhesions or built up scar tissue, results from inflammation, a normal part of the healing process, following any of three different ways:

  1. Acute conditions (pulls, tears, crush, collision injuries)
  2. Chronic Conditions (repetitive use or overuse injuries, creating small tears and micro tears, leading to more inflammation and even greater amounts of laying down additional scar tissue.
  3. Tissue not getting enough oxygen (hypoxia)

If these adhesions and scar tissue, made up of the protein fibrin, is not normalized or effectively treated, it will lead to a Cumulative Injury Cycle. This Cycle, until broken, will continue to lay down more scar tissue, resulting in additional compensation pattern, pain and long term muscle and fascial dysfunction.

The primary focus of an ART treatment session is to assess where key adhesions and scar tissue has developed, place a specific hand placements on that exact restriction and when combined with a clients directed movement, which can break up scar tissue and their resultant pain patterns.

An ART treatment, I have read, is possibly uncomfortable and perhaps even a little painful. From my perspective, much can be accomplished by my client being completely in charge of the amount of pressure and tension that they experience but always within a scale of mild to moderate discomfort. Never will it be “too much” and if it is, we will do less and still get amazing results.

Just last week, I worked with a former competitive swimmer who had experienced significant pain for over 11 years and had tried a multitude of different therapies and treatments but she still had pain in the rhomboids, right between her shoulder blades. This was her second session and she walked in and the pain she had suffered from for so long, was gone.

Please remember that each individuals circumstance is different and although it would be fantastic to help each and every person out of pain in just one or two sessions, sometimes it may take additional sessions to see a significant release of pain, discomfort and restrictions, which may have built up over 5, 10 or 20 years.

ART is the perfect antidote for anyone who is tired of living with pain, discomfort or restriction and no longer wants to accept the verdict that “you’ll just have to live with it”. My recommendation, if you truly want to take your life back and feel your absolute best, is to find a highly qualified ART provider, invest a relatively a small amount of time and money into your health, so you can live your life to the fullest.

If you happen to need assistance on finding an ART provider close to you, please go to www.activerelease.com and click on “Find a Provider”. If you still need assistance in finding someone to provide you with the most beneficial therapeutic work, please send me an email at and I will do my best to help you.

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