What is Active Release Technique?

Active Release Technique, or ART, is a type of massage therapy created by P. Michael Leahy, DC, CCSP. Defined as a “soft tissue system/movement-based massage technique,” Active Release Technique is designed to treat problems with muscles, tendons, nerves, ligaments and fascia.

The History of Active Release Technique

Technique creator Dr. Leahy noticed his patients’ symptoms were often related to changes in soft tissue easily felt by hand. After examining how the muscles, nerves, ligaments, fascia and tendons responded to different types of massage, the doctor realized he could consistently treat over 90% of his patients' issues. He then patented his technique and now travels the world teaching health care professionals how to use Active Release Technique. Dr. Leahy also offers certification in this method.

How Does Active Release Technique Work?

Dr. Leahy and those certified in Active Release Technique use their hands to evaluate the mobility, tightness and texture of soft tissue. This lets the practitioner know what areas of the body need the most work. Pressure is then applied to break up or remove fibrous adhesions, with the technique’s stretching motions used in the direction of venous and lymphatic flow. Massage in the opposite direction of said flow is sometimes applied depending on the issue.

Four levels of Active Release Technique exist, with the practitioner doing most of the work in the first three levels. The fourth level requires the patient to move affected tissue in certain ways while the practitioner applies pressure. Some 500 specific moves are linked to this treatment! Whatever the condition or injury, the goal of Active Release Technique is to smooth the tissue and release any trapped blood vessels or nerves. Different techniques may be employed throughout the session depending on what muscles/tendons/nerves/etc. require work.

How Do Problems With Soft Tissue Occur?

Pain in soft tissue is generally the result of overuse. Examples include acute conditions such as tears, pulls and injuries from collisions, as well as micro-trauma, or the “accumulation of small tears.” Other reasons for soft tissue problems include oxygen deprivation, or hypoxia. Any of these problems cause the body to protect soft tissue by forming dense scar tissue over it, which interferes with movement of the latter tissue. Pain, range of motion loss and reduced strength are common when this occurs. If the issue involves the nerves, tingling sensations, weakness and numbness are common.

What Does Active Release Technique Treat Specifically?

Active Release Technique treats a wide range of painful problems, including headache, neck pain, sciatica pain, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, joint inflammation, TMJ, plantar fasciitis, shin splints and tendonitis. While the technique is currently recommended for acute pain, those with chronic pain may find much relief from Active Release Technique, particularly if other options have been exhausted.

Natural Relief

Among the many benefits of this technique is that it’s natural and non-invasive. Rather than resorting to painkillers or unnecessary surgery to correct a problem, a person can opt for this treatment. Medications often feature side effects, however no side effects have been cited regarding this technique. However, it is best performed every other day, if necessary.

Stop living in pain! Learn about active release technique today by contacting Integrative Spin and Sports and enjoy the many benefits that come with this treatment.