Active Release Technique (ART) is a patented, state of the art soft tissue system/movement based massage technique that helps in treating problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and nerves. It does wonders in conditions like headaches, TMJ, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, sciatica, shoulder pain, tennis elbow, knee problems, tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, shin splints and various soft tissue inflammatory problems of the joints. Overused or over strained muscles are the frequent cause of all these conditions.
P. Michael Leahy, DC, CCSP developed and patented the Active Release Technique.
Benefits of Active Release Technique
ART is frequently used to treat conditions which occur due to scar tissue or adhesions in the overused muscles. According to ART therapists, as adhesions accumulate, the muscles become weaker, shorter and the motion of joints and muscles is altered along with compression of the nerves. Due to this, there is decreased blood supply to the tissues resulting in pain and poor mobility/flexibility.
Specific conditions that may be treated using ART are: headaches, TMJ, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, sciatica, shoulder pain, tennis elbow, knee problems, tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, shin splints and various soft tissue inflammatory problems of the joints. The aim of ART is to reestablish the smooth movement of tissues and to decompress or release any trapped blood vessels or nerves present.
Description of Active Release Technique
In an ART therapy, the chiropractor uses one’s hands to assess the, tightness, mobility and texture of the soft tissue. With the use of hand pressure, the chiropractor tries to remove or break down the fibrous adhesions using stretching motions, commonly in the direction of lymphatic and venous lymphatic flow. Sometimes, chiropractor may use the opposite direction also.
As seen in other soft-tissue treatment forms, the first three levels of ART treatment comprises of movement of the patient’s tissue by the chiropractor. However, in the fourth level, ART entails the patient to actively/vigorously move the affected tissue in a specific, prescribed manner while the chiropractor applies a specific tension (pressure). The involvement of the patient is considered as an advantage of ART, as individuals who participate actively for the betterment of their own health are believed to experience better results.
Risks and Contraindications of Active Release Technique
ART is not advised and is contraindicated in patients having blunt trauma or active inflammation. Otherwise, there are no significant contraindications for ART and it can be used safely; however, its use should be restricted to alternate days.
Training and Certification in Active Release Technique
Training in ART can be undertaken by chiropractors, massage therapists, physical therapists, certified athletic trainers, medical doctors and those who are qualified to work on soft-tissue injuries or conditions and also the students in those fields. In order to receive ART certification, practitioners should attend workshops and have to pass a practical exam. Additionally, in order to maintain the certification, practitioners have to attend a minimum of one ART seminar annually and pass re-credential exams.