About ART

What is Active Release Technique (ART)?

ART® is a patented, state-of-the-art soft tissue system that treats problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and nerves. 

Headaches, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, shin splints, shoulder pain, sciatica, plantar fasciitis, knee problems, and tennis elbow are just a few of the many conditions that can be resolved quickly and permanently with ART.

These conditions all have one important thing in common: they often result from injury to over-used muscles.

Man swimming.

How do overuse injuries occur?

Over-used muscles (and other soft tissues) change in three important ways:

  • Acute injuries (pulls, tears, collisions, etc)
  • Accumulation of small tears (micro-trauma) 
  • Not getting enough oxygen (hypoxia). 

Each of these factors can cause your body to produce tough, dense scar tissue in the affected area. This scar tissue binds up and ties down tissues that need to move freely. 

As scar tissue builds up, muscles become shorter and weaker, tension on tendons cause tendinitis, and nerves can become trapped. This can cause reduced ranges of motion, loss of strength, and pain. 

If a nerve is trapped you may also feel tingling, numbness, and weakness.

How do adhesions form?

Injury of soft tissues occurs two ways. There is the acute injury, a blow, pull or strain of the muscle, tendon or ligament, or the repetitive overuse type such as improper posture, faulty biomechanics, compensation injuries and repeated motions. 

The result of either problem is that due to the compression, tissues suffer from decreased blood supply, they feel tight and full, and respond by producing scar tissue to protect them from further damage. 

This effect of decreased circulation and scar tissue adhesions alters the function of the structures involved and results in pain, poor mobility of the muscle joint or area of function, decreased athletic performance and, most importantly, a continuation of the cumulative injury cycle.

Adhesions cause the motion of muscles and joints to be altered and the compression of nerves, resulting in a wide variety of symptoms that characterize the cumulative injury cycle and reduction in biomechanical performance.

ART logo

Frequently Asked Questions

How long will it take for my injury to resolve?   

It depends on how severe your injury is, how long you have had it, and a number of other factors that your ART provider will evaluate the first time he or she sees you.

Most people see significant results after only two or three ART sessions.

ART can produce quick results without surgery.

How long has ART been around?

It's relatively new.  ART was developed by Michael Leahy, D.C., in 1984.  

What is an ART treatment like?

Every ART session is actually a combination of examination and treatment. 

The ART provider uses his or her hands to evaluate the texture, tightness and movement of muscles, fascia, tendons, ligaments and nerves. Abnormal tissues are treated by combining precisely directed tension with very specific patient movements. 

ART® finds the specific tissues that are restricted and physically works them back to its normal texture, tension, and length by using various hand positions and soft tissue manipulation methods. 

These treatment protocols – over 500 of them - are unique to ART. They allow providers to identify and correct the specific problems that are affecting each individual patient.

What is Biomechanical Motion Analysis?

Biomechanical Motion Analysis is the art and science of observing and identifying biomechanical dysfunctions by watching the gait, movement, and performance of the various parts of the human body. 

With ART, this process also includes the identification of appropriate treatment protocols, the execution of these protocols, and the evaluation of the effectiveness of these treatments. 

Trained ART practitioners perform a biomechanical analysis of athletes to determine where the restrictions are located along the entire kinetic chain. 

Woman running

What is Performance Care?

Performance care is soft tissue treatment to improve an athlete's performance in his or her chosen sport. 

Subtle or gross changes in the physiology of an athlete’s body can have tremendous impact on the time and effort required to perform an activity. Difficult training regimes, repetitive motions (swimming, running, cycling), and overworked muscles all place a great deal of stress on an athlete's body. 

Repetitive motion, constant tension, and pressure often result in inflammation and swelling of soft tissue. The body responds to this inflammation by laying down scar tissue (cross fibers across the tissue) in an attempt to stabilize the affected area. This scar tissue:

  • Restricts motion 
  • Reduces circulation
  • Inhibits nerve function
  • Causes ongoing friction and pressure
  • Results in the production of yet more cross fibers and adhesions across inflamed soft tissues. 

Even though physical training factors can be modified, the biomechanical restrictions that have been created in the athlete’s body are seldom addressed. 

These factors lead to future injuries and inhibit the athlete from reaching his or her full performance potential.  Equally important, different athletes may present with identical pain patterns, but each athlete may have completely different structures that are impaired or injured. 

Before treatment takes place, an extremely specific examination and diagnosis must be performed.  It is important to look past the initial point of pain to identify other structures that are involved in the kinetic chain.  

Effective treatment of any soft tissue injury (ligaments, muscles, blood vessels, fascia and nerves) requires an alteration in tissue structure to break up the restrictive cross-fiber adhesions and to restore normal function to the affected soft tissue areas. 

When executed properly, this process:

  • Substantially decreases healing time
  • Treats the root cause of the injury
  • Improves athletic performance.

Athletes suffer from a broad range of repetitive strain and stress-related injuries. The difficult training causes muscle restrictions due to adhesion formation, and results in numerous types of injuries.

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