Combining Active Release Techniques with Functional Anatomy Palpation

A posting from Andrew Bouchier, RMT:

Like all health professionals, massage therapists are obliged to pursue professional development. Within certain constraints we are free to choose the courses we will take as we continually enhance our knowledge and skills. Of course, the variety is wide and so when when a peer or a mentor makes a strong recommendation, I listen. That’s how I came to be an Active Release Techniques provider. It’s also why I took the Functional Anatomy Palpation (FAP) courses.

Dr. Andreo Spina, a Canadian chiropractor developed the Functional Anatomy Palpation series in response to a need that he perceived in the training of manual practitioners:

“(O)rthopedic tests” were designed…
for “orthopedic conditions”,
by “orthopedic surgeons”.

Chiropractors, physiotherapists and massage therapists were typically trained to identify traumatic injuries, i.e. less common musculoskeletal (MSK) problems. For these injuries the most appropriate intervention would be surgery. On the other hand, for micro trauma and repetitive stress injuries to soft tissues like muscles and tendons (i.e. the most common MSK problems) there was no comprehensive system that could be used to determine what was happening.

Before the integrity of any soft tissue can even be assessed however, it must first be correctly identified. The human body has several hundred muscles and a successful treatment will depend on accurately locating and identifying the problem muscle. It must be differentiated from all of the muscles that lie around it. This is where FAP particularly shines. As Dr. Spina puts it:

“Specificity of diagnosis = Specificity of treatment
= Specificity of results”

You might well ask “How is an ART treatment different if the practitioner also uses FAP?” In fact, the experience of it would be no different yet the treatment could be substantially more effective, because the problem would be more quickly identified. As a therapist, I found that FAP training filled in gaps in my skill set. I began to treat some particular problems with much greater success, for instance, the groin tension that soccer players commonly experience.

Clinically, I have found that applying Active Release Techniques using Functional Anatomy Palpation principles has proven to be a winning combination. I believe that my clients agree.

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