Active Release Technique

Active Release Technique, or ART, is a patented manual soft tissue treatment that can be effective in the treatment of a variety of soft tissue injuries that conventional treatments like physical therapy and surgery have failed to improve. ART is a hands-on technique similar to massage but this very specific method uses a patient’s motions. The goal of this procedure is restoring function, texture, and range of motion to soft tissues like muscles and tendons while releasing trapped blood vessels and nerves.

What is Active Release Technique?

While Active Release Technique is not a magic solution that can cure all soft tissue injuries, it is a safe, non-invasive technique that produces very good results. Practitioners who have studied ART learn over 500 treatment protocols that combine motion, tension, and pressure to force tissue and muscle to work together as they should, including when other treatments have failed to pinpoint the cause of the problem. These protocols have been developed to treat every nerve, fascia, ligament, muscle, and tendon in the body for targeted treatment and powerful results.

ART treats the whole soft tissue structure rather than focusing on a single section, as the point of pain does not always indicate the source of the problem. Directed pressure, active motion, and specific treatment of the muscle allows the practitioner to break up adhesions, or fibrous tissue that develops from small tears in ligament, tendon, or muscle. This scar tissue, which is made of up a dense tissue the body creates to connect injured tissue, can bind to surrounding structures. If there is a nerve running through an area with scar tissue, the nerve can become pinched or entrapped in the adhesion that leads to trigger pain. This can also limit range of motion and strain healthy tissue.

How Do Soft Tissue Adhesions Develop?

These adhesions or scar tissue can develop from poor posture that causes constant tension and pressure, overuse due to a repetitive motion injury, or an acute injury. After an injury, soft tissue first becomes inflamed before it develops a string muscle lesion. After up to two weeks, this lesion develops into a lumpy and palpable adhesion. Over time, these adhesions can change into leathery tissue that causes chronic issues.

It’s important to have adhesions treated as soon as possible for several reasons. Scar tissue limits blood flow to soft tissue in the area, shortening muscle and reducing function. This can also lead to numbness, weakness, and pain if the adhesion puts pressure on a nerve.

Conditions Treated with Active Release Technique

Active release technique can effectively treat a variety of soft tissue injuries and conditions. It is most commonly used in sports medicine to treat sports-related injuries such as shin splints, tight muscles, and IT band issues. It can also be used for repetitive strain injuries related to work, such as tension in the neck and shoulders.

A partial list of conditions that can be targeted with ART include:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Sciatica
  • Shin splints
  • Back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Tennis elbow
  • Plantar fasciities
  • Golfer’s elbow
  • Foot pain
  • Achilles tendonitis
  • Iliotibial band syndrome
  • Swimmer’s shoulder
  • TMJ
  • Injuries due to weight lifting, golf, soccer, football, and running

ART is a Cost-Effective Treatment

Repetitive strain injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome are one factor in the rising health care costs in the United States with an estimated cost of $100 billion each year. Repetitive strain injuries such as lower back pain and carpal tunnel can be treated effectively with ART for a fraction of the cost of prescription painkillers and invasive surgery, both of which often have serious and unintended side effects and do not always work to correct the cause of the pain.

Despite the lower cost, Active Release Technique is an effective form of therapy that has been found to be effective at reducing pain and helping soft tissue injuries heal. A recent study published in the Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation found that 71% of people with work-related injuries found relief from ART in less than four weeks.

Most soft tissue conditions respond well to ART and resolve within 6 to 10 treatments. Each treatment takes about 20 minutes and up to 15 visits may be required for optimal results. While these treatments may feel uncomfortable at first as the adhesions are broken up, this is temporary and the discomfort subsides as soon as the short treatment session is over. Treatments are always customized to each patient’s tolerance level to maximize the benefit within the shortest amount of time.

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Active Release Technique can help helpful at treating hundreds of soft tissue issues throughout the body, including pinched nerves, tendonitis, repetitive strain injuries, and sports-related injuries. If traditional treatment options have failed you, or you would prefer to begin with a non-invasive and conservative approach to treating your pain and discomfort, ART may be the right choice for you.

Contact Chiropractic Fit for a consultation with a chiropractor who can help you determine the cause of your pain and develop a customized treatment plan to help you live your life without pain.