Active Release Technique – also known as ART – was created, trademarked, and patented by Dr. P. Michael Leahy. A certified chiropractor, Dr. Leahy had been treating athletes with soft tissue disorders and was looking for a way to help them not only overcome chronic pain, but improve performance. After getting patients good results, some of his chiropractic colleagues asked Dr. Leahy to do a seminar on his techniques in 1988, and ART was born.
What Is Active Release Technique?
When minor injuries occur in muscles, adhesions can sometimes form in order to sort of “connect” damaged tissues together. This makes these damaged tissues act together as one solid unit in order to keep them stable. This is how scar tissue develops over time. The problem is that this scar tissue can eventually encapsulate nerves, creating trigger points and result in pain. Active release technique is a deep tissue massage designed to break up this scar tissue.
What Benefits can ART Provide?
One of the biggest benefits active release technique provides is improvements in flexibility and range of motion. A study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics showed increased lower body flexibility after just one ART session. Another study in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science showed that active release technique provided consistently better range of motion to a group of adults suffering from chronic neck pain.
ART applied to the upper legs has also shown to lessen lower back pain, as well as improve recovery of the lower body as a whole. By keeping the legs relatively pain free and more flexible, active release technique can help maintain and even improve athletic performance. ART also has the potential to provide relief to those suffering from symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.
What should You Expect?
If you decide to undergo ART therapy yourself, you should honestly expect for some pain to be involved. Individual results will vary, but because active release technique is not only a form of deep tissue massage, but is breaking up scar tissue, some moderate discomfort will be likely. Because of this, you’ll want to be judicious with your sessions.
While there have been benefits demonstrated after just one application, ART is like anything else in that you’ll get the most benefit you stay with it on a consistent basis. However, due to the pain that ART can cause during the session and soreness that sometimes results after your session, you’ll want to space your bouts out, based on how you’re feeling. Many practitioners have found a good pace to be once every two to four weeks.
If you have trouble with poor flexibility, past injuries that you feel have resulted in scar tissue, or just want to be more limber, then active release technique very well might be something to consider. Studies have shown it to work, but it will still ultimately be your decision. A quick internet search will help you find a qualified provider in your area that you can schedule a consultation with.