Active Release Techniques (ART) is a non-surgical way of diagnosing and treating myofascial adhesion/scar tissue within muscles, fascia, tendons and ligaments. When soft tissue is injured, it literally “gets sticky”: Filaments of the muscle tissue get bound together, forming dense scar tissue or adhesions, restricting blood flow and oxygen delivery to the muscles. This causes the muscle to become tight and leathery, like a leather belt rather than an elastic rubber band. These adhesions impede movement, cause the muscle to become less elastic and less flexible, and may entrap nerves. The “gluing” together of the muscles leads to pain, weakness, and improper function. The pain comes and goes and each flare-up is a little worse. The cycle continues.

Dr. Mike Leahy, the founder of Active Release Techniques, explains more, “The ‘art’ of it all is being able to know where to look for adhesions, how to feel for them and how to use active motion of the body part to break them up. Active motion separates this procedure from most other soft-tissue manipulation techniques. To break an adhesion, you actually have to put your thumb and fingers on it and make it move in a way that breaks it away from the tissues.”

During a session, both the doctor and the patient can feel the adhesion break apart. “It kinda hurts,” Leahy says. “But most people describe it as ‘hurts good’. ” The results are usually noticeable within the first few treatments. While some patients need further treatments, many can maintain the improvements with a proper diet, exercise and a stretching/strengthening program.

A.R.T. is not massage. Deep tissue massage, rolfing, and trigger point techniques all use a kneading motion or deep pressure to “smash” the adhesion. A.R.T uses lighter pressure and more friction to “shear” the adhesion. Trying to crush an adhesion can lead to damaging the healthy muscles tissue.. A.R.T. uses more tension and friction to break up adhesions in the injured areas of the muscle. For additional information visit the website.

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