Many manual techniques are utilized by therapists to help their patients recover as quickly as possible. Active Release Technique® (or ART®) is a patented manual therapy technique that corrects soft tissue restrictions that lead to pain and decreased mobility.
ART® is a specific technique where the practitioner uses their hands to examine and treat any soft tissue dysfunction. Patients with repetitive use injuries, tendinopathy, carpal tunnel syndrome, plantar fasciitis, rotator cuff pathology, restricted joint motion and sprains/strains are examples of diagnoses that respond well to ART®. Usually a patient will see significant results within just a few visits.
How do these conditions occur?
- Over-used muscles (and other soft tissues) change in three important ways:
- acute conditions (pulls, tears, collisions, etc),
- accumulation of small tears (micro-trauma)
- not getting enough oxygen (hypoxia).
Anyone can develop soft tissue injuries through trauma, stress, or overuse of muscles. If movement is painful or restricted then you will not be able to recruit the affected muscles to their full extent. This past week after I worked on a patient's forearm, he immediately gained 15 lbs. of grip strength. The tenderness they had in the forearm musculature was inhibiting his ability to fully contract his muscles. His new found strength was not because he exercised but because we took away what was impeding the muscles.
In additional to helping recover from injuries, ART® can be extremely helpful in helping you to perform your best in any activity. I was part of the ART® team helping athletes at the 2006 IRONMAN in Panama City. These athletes had sore areas from training but they also came for treatment wanting to perform their best. In any activity if you don't have your full motion or you have some pain with movements then you will not perform your best.
If you are a golfer and have decreased shoulder, neck, upper back or hip motion then you will not be able to make your best swing. Perhaps you can adapt or make due with a compromised swing but it will be more difficult to make your best, most consistent swing. If you are a runner and have a shortened stride due to restricted hip flexors then you will put more pressure on your low back and will work harder to run at your normal pace. ART® can help you to regain or even improve your current motion. ART® is an extremely effective method to restore you to full motion living.
What to expect in a session.
An ART® session is always a combination of examination and treatment. It is sometimes mistakenly thought of as some type of massage. However, the ART® provider uses his or her hands to evaluate the texture, tightness, and movement of muscles, fascia, tendons, ligaments and nerves. Abnormal tissues are
treated by combining precisely directed tension with very specific patient movements. Most often, the patient is an active participant in the movement of the muscle by moving it from its shortest position to its longest. There are over 500 specific moves or protocols that are unique to ART®. They allow providers to identify and correct the specific problems that are affecting each individual patient.
In summary, Active Release Techniques is often called the gold standard when it comes to soft tissue manipulation. If you perform an internet search you will see almost 13 million results for Active Release Techniques as of December 2013 compared with significantly less results for most any other technique. It is extremely effective for injuries but also to improve most any movement performance.
George Floyd, PT, DPT was one of the first clinicians in the South to be certified in ART® in 2001. He is Masters level whole body certified, Biomechanics and Nerve entrapment certified.