Active Release Technique 

If you have ever pulled or torn a muscle or severely injured a muscle group, chances are you have muscle adhesions in that area of your body. Muscle adhesions act like your body’s natural ‘Band-Aid’, as it is a strategy to help repair damage. The downside is that along with other scar tissue, muscle adhesions can cause a person pain and discomfort leading to that ‘old and worn’ feeling. Similar to plastic wrap, adhesions can bind two tissues together, resulting in decreased muscle length and the muscle becoming non-compliant. Cramping of the lower limbs at night is a typical sign of a non-compliant muscle.

Many individuals believe that a few stretches and time will release the adhesions, however; active release technique (ART) offers a much better approach. An advanced massage technique, ART is designed specifically to release and relieve tension found in muscles, tendons and fascia (the muscle covering). ART treatment works by breaking up adhesions and restoring integrity to the soft-tissue. In principle this is achieved by maintaining contact on the adhesion, with the muscle in a shortened position and elongating the muscle along its fiber orientation to break up the adhesion.

Concerns about ART include pain during treatment and treatment length. The sensation patients often experience is one of those “hurt so nice” feelings and significant results are often seen within 3-4 weeks. Once the restrictions have been removed an effective stretch routine plays a role in preventing the return of restrictions.

Treatable Conditions with ART

There are over 500 ART treatment protocols and ART can help with various conditions such as back, hand, wrist, elbow, hip, knee, neck, shoulder and foot pain, as well as injuries specific to sports such as golfing, running, paddling and swimming.

One of the benefits of ART is the quick results it can achieve. When combined with a stretch and exercise routine, muscles, tendons, ligaments and nerve related problems tend to respond well to ART treatments.

All of Back to Health’s health care practitioners are certified in ART, for more information regarding conditions that can be treated using ART click here: Active Release Techniques.

Active Release Techniques Can Help Resolve Many Common Back Conditions Including:
→ Facet syndrome
→ Muscle strains/pulls
→ Arthritis
→ Sciatic Nerve Entrapment
→ Disc Injuries
→ Mechanical low back pain

The Injury Process

Over time repetitive forces on the body accumulate placing strain on muscles, ligaments, tendons, and joints. This process can be amplified when the body already has movement restrictions. As time goes on athletes or active individuals will continue their training regime or daily activities leading to micro trauma. While this may not be aggravating or painful, the individual may experience tightness or a slight discomfort. These tiny damages to the tissue still require repairs and small amounts of scar tissue will be laid down around the site of injury, the body’s normal response to micro-trauma. The issue lies with the repetitive nature of an individual’s activities. By constantly straining/stressing the same areas more and more, scar tissue is laid down at the same tissue sites, eventually building up into an adhesion. At this point you will really notice a difference in muscle function such as pain and joint restriction. If the cycle continues the muscle’s ability to contract may become affected to the point where an individual’s stability can become compromised, such as a runner’s knee.
Traditional approaches to these types of muscle injuries make use of anti-inflammatory medications, rest and ice. Unfortunately these interventions fail to address the underlying adhesions that are binding tissue and restricting movement.
Active release technique combined with stretch protocols is a more active approach to addressing the adhesions, which don’t treat themselves!
Who Can Provide ART Treatment?
Healthcare providers that are licensed to work on soft-tissue conditions and injuries can take ART courses. This includes Chiropractors, Massage Therapists, Physical Therapists and Medical Doctors. Personal Trainers & Physical Therapy Assistants are not licensed to treat soft-tissue conditions and are not able to take ART courses. ART involves over 500 protocols and providers are trained to have an advanced feeling for tissues, including their texture, tension and movement.

Stretch of the Month:

Last month we had an article on Illiotibial Band Syndrome and how it is a repetitive strain injury that can cause problems for runners and cyclists. To avoid ITB tightness it is a good idea to incorporate stretches with a foam roller into your stretching routine, as a foam roller can help to increase flexibility and reduce muscle tension. To perform the ITB stretch:

1. Lie on your right side with the roller just under your hip-bone.
2. Straighten your right leg, support yourself using your arms and if needed, the left leg.
3. Roll from the hip down the outer side of your leg to the knee.
4. Repeat on the other side
ART, active release technique, active release therapy