What is Active Release Technique?  


Active Release Technique (ART) is a patented soft tissue technique that is very effective for any type of soft tissue injury. It was first commonly known within the elite sports community as a way to get athletes quickly back to performing at their best.  Since the later 1990's it has become a common part of the recommendations to resolve soft tissue pathology.  Soft tissues that can be affected by using this technique include muscle, fascia, tendons, ligaments and nerves.  Anyone can benefit from having a certified ART provider use this technique to restore soft tissue back to functional movement and health.  ART is not massage therapy.  It is a separate certification taken by a health care provider covering hundreds of protocols for the upper body, lower body, spine, and nerve entrapments; among other additional certifications. 

ART Treatment: How is it done?

Clients are dressed and sitting or lying on a treatment table in order to move around to have the areas treated.  During an ART session, Sarah uses specific depth and tension generated within the involved soft tissue area.  She then directs you to move in a range of motion that will bring it from its shortened position into a lengthened position (so active on the patients part).  This combination of strong tension generated in the right direction and then movement of the tissue into a position of length breaks up any dense adhesions (scar tissue) and releases tension, thereby restoring that area to its proper length and function.  It is not only working on individual areas of pathology, but also those areas in relation to the rest of the body as a whole.  

Sarah will often treat above and below an injured area, as usually there is more going on for that area to become compromised initially and because of the resulting compensatory patterns.  No muscle in your body works alone.  An affected muscle often has muscle lying on top of it and underneath it.  The ART technique not only restores the individual soft tissue, but also the function of how they interact with corresponding soft tissue groups. An injured muscle during its healing process will trigger the body's healing response which lays down haphazard layers of strong fibrotic tissue in order to "patch" up the area and prevent further damage.  This can decrease range of motion and cause local pain and referred pain patterns.  Surrounding muscles are then recruited in to help out, thus becoming fatigued and more likely to be susceptible to injury as well.  Adhesions can also form in between muscle groups.  ART targets those areas (commonly felt as large sore knots) with combination movements that free up the affected muscles so that they slide freely.  

Achieving balance by using this targeted technique restores the body to ideal function and enjoyment.  

Injuries that ART is well known for resolving:

  • Golfer's elbow (medial epicondylitis)
  • Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis)
  • plantar fasciitis
  • piriformis syndrome including sciatic nerve entrapment
  • any muscular strain, sprain 
  • lower back pain
  • neck and shoulder tension 
  • tension headaches
  • ITB friction syndrome
  • shin splints
  • patella femoral syndrome
  • frozen shoulder
  • carpal tunnel syndrome
  • trigger finger

Many people report that ART was the only treatment that was effective for resolving a chronic injury that was not responding well to other types of treatment. It is also used as an alternative to surgery for some of the above injuries.

Sarah is fully certified in Active Release Technique including nerve entrapments training. ART is within an RMT's scope of practice.  It is covered under any health care plan as massage therapy if you are seeing Sarah or another RMT for this.