Active Release Technique, or ART, is a soft tissue system/management based massage technique that allows a practitioner to diagnose and treat problems with muscle, tendon, ligaments, fascia and nerves. Specific injuries that apply are repetitive microtrauma (achilles tendinopathy, runner’s knee), adhesions/scar tissue (sprains/strains), tissue hypoxia(lack of oxygen from swelling) and joint dysfunction (hyper and/or hypomobile joints). All of these injuries have one key thing in common: they are the result of overused muscles.
Acute injury, repetitive injury or constant pressure/tension injury can happen over and over again leading to what is called the Cumulative Injury Cycle. Constant exposure to repetitive forces and/or excessive loads on an area cause chronic microtraumas to the tissues and scar tissue formation over weeks and months. When the soft tissue structures are injured the sequel to the injury is one of altered biomechanics. It is impossible for a muscle, for example, to undergo a significant tear, develop an adhesion and then perform normally.
The result of the Cumulative Injury Cycle is self-perpetuating and the symptoms and syndromes of a Cumulative Injury Disorder are produced. These may include, carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, neck pain, back pain, achilles tendinopathy, runner’s knee, rotator cuff tendonitis and others. All of these lead to PAIN and LOSS of FUNCTION.
It helps to to think of ART as a type of active massage. It is designed to allow the practitioner to 1) break up scar tissue adhesions, 2) restore normal tissue translation and movement and 3) restore strength, flexibility, balance and stability to the affected area. These are accomplished by the practitioner using their hands to first, shorten a muscle, ligament, tendon or joint capsule and then apply a very specific tension as you actively stretch and lengthen the tissue.
One of the best things about ART is how fast you can get results. When the proper affected lesion has been identified and any perpetuating factors have been addressed, significant results should occur in 5-7 treatments. Each case is unique and there may be several factors that determine the length of time that is required to resolve your individual condition.