What is ART®?
The Active Release Techniques® Soft Tissue Management System was developed and founded by Dr. Michael Leahy, DC, CCSP. ART® assesses and treats the underlying problems caused by adhesions in muscle and scar tissue formation. These problems are often caused by repetitive stress injuries, or “overuse” syndromes. ART® treatments restore muscles to their normal length, allowing for proper function and improved performance. It is a valuable treatment for athletes of all levels, treating common conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome, sciatica, knee pain, shin splints, and plantar fasciitis.
Understanding Overuse Injuries in Soft Tissues
According to Dr. Michael Leahy, cumulative trauma, or overuse injuries can lead to scar formation, decreased functional strength, and flexibility limitations. As a result, movement pattern dysfunction occurs and biomechanics and functional performance is affected.
Any time an athlete or individual increases the frequency, intensity, and/or duration of their training, they are at risk of developing an overuse syndrome. The damage to the soft tissue can create micro-traumas to muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and nerves. After an injury occurs, your body begins the healing process to repair damaged tissue. During this process, the formation of “non-functional” scar tissue is laid down binding tissues together. This scar tissue does not allow the soft tissue to stretch or slide normally as you begin to move and exercise again. This restriction can cause further irritation of the “healing” tissue, inflammation, and increase the risk of re-injury.
As a result, these tissues can become fibrotic and develop restrictive adhesions that affect the length, tension, and integrity of the soft tissue as well as the biomechanics and function of the adjacent areas. Muscles become shorter and weaker, there is increased tension in the tendons causing inflammation, and often entrapment of the nerves causing numbness, weakness and tingling. Active Release Techniques® are specifically designed to break this cycle by assessing and identifying the site of the lesion, manually releasing the adhesive scar tissue, and restoring tissue back to its normal functional length.
What is an ART® treatment like?
Every ART® session is actually a combination of examination and treatment. The ART® provider uses his or her hands to evaluate the texture, tightness and movement of muscles, fascia, tendons, ligaments and nerves. Abnormal tissues are treated by treatment protocols (over 500 specific moves) that are unique to ART®. Many patients experience recovery after only 5-10 visits, although this depends on the severity of their injuries. Patients usually get well quickly, completely, and with much less expense.