Active Release Techniques (ART) is a soft tissue method that relieves tissue tension by removing fibrosis/adhesions that can develop in tissues due to overload from repetitive use. These disorders can cause muscle weakness, numbness, aching, tingling, and burning sensations. Although ART has been reported to be a diagnostic as well as a treatment method, there is limited scientific evidence regarding the effects of ART on a variety of pathologies, with most of the evidence being anecdotal and case report evidence.
History of ART
Dr. P. Michael Leahy, a chiropractor, developed and patented ART. Dr. Leahy noticed that the problems that his patients were having were caused by changes in their soft tissues, so he made a method that was based on the symptoms of his patients. In 1985, he documented his work under the name Myofascial Release but later patented it as Active Release Techniques.
ART is used to treat symptoms involving muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, and nerves. It has a 3-fold design:
- To release entrapped nerves, vasculature, and lymphatics
- To restore free and unimpeded motion to all soft tissues
- To get soft tissues back to their best texture, resilience, and function.
Trauma can cause negative changes in tissues, such as swelling, fibrosis, and adhesions. During treatment, the doctor or therapist uses compressive, tensile, and shear forces to treat repetitive strain injuries, constant pressure tension lesions, and cumulative trauma injuries. The clinician applies deep tension to the tender area while instructing the patient to actively move the injured area from a shortened to a lengthened position. Placing a contact point near the lesion and getting the patient to move in a way that makes soft tissues, like nerves, ligaments, and muscles, slide along the contact point.
Effectiveness of ART
A few pilot studies have reported on the effects of ART on various pathologies. However, there was no control group in these studies, and the group sizes were small.
- Adductor and ART strains
The pilot study looked at the effectiveness of ART in relieving short-term pain from adductor muscle strains in ice hockey players. Although the study was only short-term, pre and post-measurements showed that ART effectively increased the pain pressure threshold in adductor muscle pain sensitivity.
- ART and hamstring flexibility
Although the 20 subjects were significantly more flexible after ART, the small group sample only included young, healthy males, limiting its validity to the general population. It was also a brief study.
- ART and carpal tunnel syndrome
This study looked at the effect of ART on the median nerve in 5 people with carpal tunnel syndrome. After two weeks of treatment, both the severity of the symptoms and the functional status improved. This small clinical pilot study suggests that ART may be an effective treatment strategy for patients with carpal tunnel syndrome.
- ART and quadriceps inhibition and strength
ART had no effect on quadriceps inhibition or strength in the nine athletes with anterior knee pain. More research is needed.
ART and Performance
Active people of all levels can benefit from ART. It can help patients improve their sports performance by identifying and releasing restrictions that limit their performance in their chosen activity. This usually happens after the practitioner performs a biomechanical analysis of the patient’s motion. During the biomechanical analysis and subsequent treatment, the practitioner:
- Evaluates gait, motion, and posture.
- Identifies biomechanical dysfunctions that are restricting performance.
- Identifies the soft tissue structures that are the main cause of the biomechanical dysfunction, as well as the structures that have been affected throughout the kinetic chain.
- ART is used to treat soft tissue dysfunctions and restore full function to the affected structures.
Active Release Therapy (ART) in Kearney, NE
Our goal at Elite Health and Wellness in Kearney, NE, is to get you back to doing what you love as soon as possible. Throughout your therapy, we want you to work with us. We value your feedback and promise to consider it. We can assist you in regaining mobility by guiding you with our values of compassion, empowerment, integrity, and teamwork.
Our certified ART practitioners can determine whether internal scar tissue is causing your pain, restricted mobility, weakness, tingling, or other symptoms. Whatever the cause, your Elite Health and Wellness provider will design a program to help you regain the quality of life you deserve.
To make an appointment, please call (308) 455 1500.