Active Release Technique (ART) is a hands-on soft tissue diagnosis and treatment system developed by Dr. Michael Leahy of Colorado Springs. ART has received a lot of press lately due to the great success it has had with professional and Olympic athletes such as Donovan Bailey, Gary Roberts, Catriona LeMay Doan, and many others.
How It Works
ART is a very specific method of myofascial release, the goal of which is to restore optimal texture, motion, and function of the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and fascia and to ‘release’ any nerves or blood vessels trapped by adhesions (scar tissue).
Adhesions can occur between layers of muscle, tendon, ligament, or fascia as a result of acute injury, repetitive motion (overuse), or constant tension (where the muscle does not get enough oxygen). Adhesions are like little dabs of glue that stick layers of muscle or other tissue together instead of allowing them to slide on one another as in the normal state. This can cause pain, decreased motion, and loss of strength. If a nerve is trapped, you may feel tingling, numbness, and weakness.
An analogy would be two boards stuck together with a few dabs of glue. Massage would be like pushing down on the top one to try to ‘release’ the adhesions, while ART would be like holding the top one and pulling the other board towards you. The latter is more likely to ‘release’ them.
ART is very successful in reducing or eliminating the pain and dysfunction associated with adhesions.
Many conditions can be successfully treated with ART even when other treatments failed to provide relief. Some of the more common conditions that often respond quickly and permanently are:
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome & other peripheral nerve entrapments
TMJ (jaw) pain & dysfunction
Whiplash & neck pain
Illiotibial Band Syndrome & Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
Sprains & strains
What Is an ART Treatment Like?
At Alberta Back and Neck Rehab & Sports Injuries Clinic in Calgary, every ART session is a combination of examination and treatment by our skilled chiropractors. The ART provider uses the thumb or finger and keen sense of touch to evaluate the texture, tightness, and movement of the muscles, tendons, fascia, and ligaments. Abnormal tissues are treated by combining precisely directed thumb or finger pressure with specific patient movements. The treatment can be uncomfortable, sometimes even a bit painful, but this lasts only a few seconds, and treatments are geared to patient tolerance.
There are over 500 ART Treatment protocols enabling providers to identify and correct each individual’s specific problem. Schedule a consultation with our office to begin discussing your ART options with one of our chiropractors.