Active Release Therapy
What is ART®?
Active Release Technique® or ART® was developed in the mid 1980’s by Dr. Michael Leahy, a Colorado based Chiropractor and aeronautical engineer. It is a state of the art, hands-on soft tissue technique designed specifically to find scar tissue in damaged tissues and release the adhesions that are resulting. This scar tissue is caused mostly by repetitive use or overuse of a certain muscle or tissue. Most commonly athletes and industrial workers doing repetitive movements suffer from such a condition, however, anybody can be affected by this injury.
How Does ART® Work?
Healthy tissues in the body normally slide over each other smoothly. When tissues are injured either by an acute trauma or repetitive microtrauma over time, the tissues experience tiny tears, and these tears fill in with scar tissue. This scar tissue is the body’s simplest grade of tissue, and often in the intent to repair, the scar tissue does more harm than good. Scar tissue build-up hinders the muscle’s ability to glide smoothly or to lengthen fully. Often the scar tissue can trap nerves, reduce blood flow to the muscles, and restrict movement creating pain, swelling and decreased range of motion. ART® works by breaking up the scar tissue that binds muscle fibres together. This is done by starting with the muscle in a shortened position as the practitioner traps the scar tissue under their finger or thumb, then the muscle is lengthened fully. Patients often feel sore the day following a treatment, but the day after that, many patients reported a significant decrease in their pain.
Who Uses ART®?
ART® is highly regarded in the sports medicine community. There are ART ® booths at numerous sports venues such as triathlons, marathons, and sport tournaments. Athletes in the NFL, NHL and Major League Baseball contract ART® practitioners to help recover them from injuries. Many elite athletes will use ART before trying any other means of treatment.
ART® is usually effective in as little as 2-5 treatments.
How Effective is ART®?
Research studies claim that ART® has a success rate of 70% or higher. This, of course, is dependant on the patient’s compliance to rehabilitation and stretching of the problem tissues which led to its breakdown in the first place. Changing positions often, taking “micro breaks” at work or a change in athletic technique is necessary for full recovery to occur.
Who Can Do ART®?
Active Release Techniques® certification is open to licensed health care professional including chiropractors, massage therapists and physiotherapists. There are over 500 specific ART® protocols that the trainees must learn before becoming certified. There are 3 separate ART® certifications (upper extremity, lower extremity, and spine) with protocols that focus on this area of the body. Annual recertification is necessary for health care practitioners in order to keep up with new findings in the technique and to keep skills sharp.