Active Release Therapy (ART) is a soft tissue technique applied by a certified therapist to locate and treat disorders related to soft tissue tension, damage, or dysfunction. It involves a physical therapist putting a specific targeted muscle or tendon/ligament/fascia in a shortened position, putting manual pressure on it and then stretching that muscle while maintaining the pressure. ART works by breaking up adhesions, which are dense areas of scar tissue that alter normal movement patterns. Scar tissue binds between the different layers of tissue causing pain, stiffness and loss of mobility.
The manipulation of soft tissues results in nerves, muscles, and joints moving freely to allow for normal movement and function. These adhesions may result from acute injury or as a result of overload because of repetitive use. ART is designed to restore free and unimpeded motion of all soft tissues, to release entrapped nerves, vasculature and lymphatic, and to re-establish resilience and function of soft tissue structures.
Who can benefit
ART is a treatment for soft tissue pain from myofascial trigger points which are tight bands with in the muscles and fascia. These trigger points can develop from activity and overuse and become problematic or they can be associated with a formal injury or diagnosis.
Anyone who is in pain due to a soft tissue injury can benefit from this form of manual therapy. ART is used in a clinical setting on athletes, office workers, laborers as well as many others. The common finding in all these people is altered movement patterns, but their mechanism or cause is different. ART can also help with nerve symptoms individuals may be experiencing that are related to soft tissue impingement around the nerves.
Clients often describe ART as non-painful, but some clients find it moderately uncomfortable. ART is directed at the adhesions, which creates pain and dysfunction. These areas are typically sensitive and with manual tension, so some discomfort may be felt. Pressure is never applied beyond the client’s tolerance.
Most clients need more than one treatment and the therapist will advise regarding the treatment protocol following the initial session.
Performance of any task such as golfing, throwing, running, walking or typing can be significantly improved with ART. This is accomplished by restoring proper muscle function and movement to allow the body to perform at its most efficient level. Adhesions create stiffness and tension, which requires more energy and effort to accomplish a desired movement or task. By releasing restrictions, body tissues can function at peak levels for your desired activity.