Home >  Blog >  Active Release Technique

Active Release Technique

Posted on 13 May 2015
Active Release Technique

Efficient movement is the key to success when dealing with marathoners and triathletes. When your muscles are moving freely through a full range of motion, you will finish strong and with the best time you are capable of. However, the extreme demands of triathlon and marathon training can damage muscle tissue, causing overworked muscle (and other soft tissue) to become chronically shorter- a result of fibrous scar tissue adhesions that build up within muscles and between muscles.

Normal muscle acts like a bundle of rubber bands, able to contract and lengthen without restriction. Scarred muscle loses this ability, behaving more like a bundle of rubber bands with globs of glue stuck to them. In other words, the muscle can't expand and contract and can't slide freely. This leads to weakness, tightness, and often extreme pain. Because certain muscles have nerves that pass through them, scar tissue build-up entraps the nerve causing symptoms like tingling, numbness, weakness and pain.

There are four basic processes that cause muscle damage and scar-tissue adhesions:

  1.     Injuries - tearing of muscle fibers from a strain or a crushing of soft tissue from an impact.
  2.     Micro trauma - accumulation of small muscle tears over time.
  3.     Hypoxia - when a muscle doesn't get enough oxygen, scar tissue forms because the cells that produce scar tissue (fibroblasts) become more active. The body thinks it's injured, even if it isn't. When muscle is chronically contracted, like the neck muscles on a long bike ride the contraction keeps blood out of muscle and the fibroblasts may produce scar tissue in muscle that has not been crushed or torn.
  4.     Friction - during movement, muscles must slide against other structures, muscles, nerves etc. Compressive loading can lead to the accumulation of scar tissue between structures.

Active Release Technique (ART) is a collection of different "hands-on" soft-tissue techniques that, among other benefits, treat alterations in tissue texture and tension. ART actually "cleans out" the muscle adhesion and scar tissue that contribute to muscle weakness and pain. An ART practitioner uses their hands to apply pressure and smooth out the muscle as the patient takes his/her own limb through a range of motion. This allows the practitioner to treat the muscle as it's working, resulting in smoother, healthier tissue relatively quickly.

Let's look at Carpal Tunnel syndrome, an increasingly common injury that has expanded beyond the workplace to the gym. Symptoms of this syndrome include pain, numbness and tingling into the hand caused by nerve entrapment. An ART practitioner will find where the nerve entrapment is located, whether it is in the neck, shoulder, forearm or wrist and break-up the adhesion, releasing the entrapped nerve and ultimately alleviating the symptoms.

Active Release Technique is a patented soft tissue treatment that may help heal that nagging injury you've had for years. Not injured? It can also be used to effectively promote injury prevention.

Types of conditions successfully treated with ART are very diverse:

  •     Runners knee, meniscal tears, iliotibialband syndrome
  •     Rotator cuff injuries, plantar fascitis
  •     Sciatica, temporal mandibular joint dysfunction, recurrent sprains and strains
  •     Tendonitis, tendonosis and other soft tissue inflammation disorders of the hand, wrist, elbow, shoulder, hip, knee, ankle, & foot
  •     Neck, mid-back and low back pain

Commonly asked questions and answers:

Q.  How soon can I expect results?

A.  In most cases following the first treatment a patient will experience a positive result. This may be an increased range of motion, less pain, increased muscle strength, or decreased numbness and tingling.
   
Q.  Once the problem is resolved what are the chances of the problem returning?

A.  If the patient is advised as to any lifestyle modifications and follows through with the prescribed exercises/stretches, the likelihood of the condition recurring is very low; a reported recurrence rate of only 4% in a carpal tunnel study of which half (2%) had not followed through with their exercises.


References:

    Leahy PM, Mock LE. Myofascial Release Technique and mechanical compromise of peripheral nerves of upper extremity, Chiropractic Sports Med. 1992;6:139-50.
    Goss K,How to bounce back from training injuries fast, Muscle Media 2000, July 1997 issue.
    Hyman G, The ART of recovery: Energy Magazine, July 2002 issue.
    Necheff J, A.R.T Therapy, The Toronto Sun, Thursday Jan. 9 issue.

Dr. Stephanie Adey 
BSc. Hons, A.R.T., Acupuncture, D.C.
Chiropractor  Printed: July 2003
Copyright ©2003 SEMI
Tags: Lower body Prevention

 

Contact Us Today

We can help with your sports medicine or therapy needs.

Tip of the Month

Get up during the day and move! Even if you work out before or after work regularly, research shows its beneficial to get up as often as every 20-30 minutes and move for a minute or two!

Sports & Exercise Medicine Institute

2 Sheppard Avenue E

Suite 601
Toronto, ON
M2N 5Y7

Phone: (416) 223-7364 (SEMI)
Fax: (416) 223-8048
Email: sheppard@semisportmed.com

Monday: 7 – 7
Tuesday: 7 – 7
Wednesday: 7 – 7
Thursday: 7 – 7
Friday: 7 – 5:30
Saturday: Open last Saturday of each month, (times vary) except long weekends, July and August.
Sunday: Closed
(Not open long weekends nor Saturdays in July and August.)

40 St. Clair Avenue W

Suite 410
Toronto, ON
M4V 1M2

Phone: (416) 927-7364 (SEMI)
Fax: (647) 930-9536
Email: stclair@semisportmed.com
Monday: 7 – 3
Tuesday: 7 – 3
Wednesday: 7 – 3
Thursday: 7 – 7
Friday: 7 – 3
Saturday: Closed
Sunday: Closed

8150 Yonge Street, Suite 1
Thornhill, ON
L4J 1W5

Phone: (289) 459-7364
Fax: (905) 731-3336
Email: thornhill@semisportmed.com
Monday: 11 – 7
Tuesday: 9 – 5
Wednesday: 11 – 7
Thursday: 11 – 6
Friday: 9 – 2
Saturday: Closed
Sunday: Closed

Posts

Doing Just Spine: Finding Lower Back Pain Relief

May 15 2018
Low back pain affects almost everyone, regardless of how old you are. Over the years, lower ba...

Sprains, Strains, and Tears: Preventing Common Soccer Injuries

May 03 2018
It's soccer season! For most of us this means grabbing our cleats, jerseys and water b...

Answering Common Questions About Dry Needling Therapy

Apr 02 2018
What is Dry Needling Therapy? Dry needling therapy is a modern treatment designed to ease ...

How Weekend Warriors Should Prepare for an Endurance Race

Mar 06 2018
It's nearly the end of winter, meaning endurance athletes can finally say goodbye to tread...

Tweets

No matter how experienced a runner you are, always stretch before hitting the trail! https://t.co/Zf7blntIj3
2 days ago
You can't always get to the gym, but you you always have time for #deskercise. https://t.co/7pviq1wzlp
9 days ago
Bookmark SiteTell a FriendPrint