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Active Release Technique was first patented by P. Michael Leahy, a certified chiropractic sports physician who created his signature method to treat patients dealing with a wide array of chronic pains or injuries. ART is similar to deep tissue massage techniques and myofascial release (although it definitely has its differences) because it works by manipulating soft tissue, thereby reducing stress placed on joints and nerves.
The conditions that ART is used to help treat naturally, often without the use of medications, are those that affect fascia (connective tissue), major muscle groups, tendons and ligaments. Most are the result of overused muscles, which contribute to scar tissue formation, tears, pulls, strains and inflammation. The goal of active release technique is to restore normal mobility and “glide” between muscular tissue and nerves. (1) It can also help push joint fluid throughout the body and stimulate the lymphatic system, which helps lower inflammation.
Some of the problems most commonly relieved through ART treatments include:
*Lower back pain
*Carpal tunnel syndrome
*Shoulder strains, including frozen shoulder
*Sciatic nerve pain/sciatica
ART Techniques: How Active Release Works
The core benefit of ART is preventing and breaking up dense scar tissue, also called adhesions. Adhesions limit the normal range of motion of joints and muscles because they cause abnormal binding between muscle groups, are very tough and are inflexible compared to healthy tissue.
The reason that ahesions form is to bind injured tissues and keep them stable — however, the adhesions act like a strong “glue” and can often compress or pinch nerves. Nerves sometimes become entrapped by scar tissue, which causes trigger points and pain to develop. The more that scar tissue forms, the more joints or tendons become strained and nerves become compressed.
According to the Active Release Techniques website, soft tissue manipulations address several components related to scar tissue formation:
*Acute injuries, including tears or collisions that can happen during exercise or sports.
*Micro-trauma, which is the gradual wear-down of tissue that’s often caused from aging and inflammation.
*Hypoxia, which results from tissue not receiving enough nutrients and oxygen.