Active Release Technique or ART is the gold standard of soft tissue care. It is a movement based manual therapy technique. Injured muscles, ligaments, fascia, tendons and nerves all respond extremely well with ART treatment. What separates ART treatment from conventional massage or muscle work is the precise directed tension and the very specific movement to ensure the smooth movement of tissue. There are over 500 protocols for treating every muscle, tendon, ligament, fascia and nerve in the body. ART is so specific that it is the only soft tissue therapy that is patented.
With ART, the whole structure can be treated instead of a particular section. It is the active motion of the muscle that allows the practitioner to break up the adhesions. An adhesion is fibrous tissue that develops from a small tear in the muscle, tendon or ligament.
An adhesion can develop 3 ways:
- Acute injury (trauma)
- Overuse (repetitive motion injury)
- Constant pressure/ tension for an extended period (poor posture)
The adhesion limits blood flow to the structure, shortens the muscle and decreases the function of the structure. This can cause pain, weakness and sometimes numbness if the adhesion is putting pressure on a nerve.
The soft tissue changes that occur following an injury are:
- Inflammation (occurs in the first 24-72 hours)
- Stringy muscles lesions (2 days-2 weeks)
- Lumpy tissue, palpable adhesions (2 weeks-3months)
- Leathery tissue, changes slowly and is more chronic (3 months and beyond)
Each treatment only takes a few passes over the structure, and accomplishes greater results in a shorter amount of time than other soft tissue therapies. ART is extremely effective when it comes to treating soft tissue conditions whether it be athletic injuries such as shin splints, tight calf muscles and IT Band problems or work-induced pain like carpal tunnel or shoulder and neck tension.