Is Active Release Therapy Right For Me?

Active release technique (ART) is a popular treatment method used to improve range of motion and flexibility and help correct soft tissue restriction. It's one of the fastest growing treatment methods in physical therapy and sports rehab practices today. Active Release Therapy provides practitioners with an effective tool to help treat muscular pain syndromes and stiffness, therefore improving athletic performance. Elite athletes around the world understand the benefits of regular ART sessions and oftentimes rely on them to help combat the day-to-day aches and pains associated with the repetitive stresses of sport. It can also be a solid treatment option for the average joe who enjoys physical activity but suffers from feelings of tightness and pain associated with exercise.

Where to Find Certified Active Release Technique Providers?

The medical providers who typically achieve certification in ART treatment are chiropractors, physical therapists, physicians and massage therapists.  Finding a practitioner who uses ART as part of their toolbox is as simple as searching “active release therapy near me” or “active release technique Brooklyn, NY” via google. Here you will find a list of the certified practitioners in your area and where to find them.


How do I know if I can benefit from Active Release Therapy?

Some of the signs that you may benefit from ART treatment include stiffness in the elbow, neck, hands, knees, ankles, shoulders, or lower/mid back. You may also be a good candidate for this type of treatment if you experience difficulty performing exercises, have painful or swollen joints, demonstrate limited range of motion, or have the sensation of tight muscles. Many musculoskeletal disorders can be improved with the use of ART therapy. It would be beneficial to schedule a consultation with your nearest physical therapist to find out if you are a good candidate for this treatment.

How Does Active Release Therapy Work?

The aim of ART treatment is to “break up” or loosen thickened scar tissue that forms adhesions to the surrounding soft tissue. It can also be used to help prevent scar tissue formation. Thickened scars and soft tissue adhesions limit joint range of motion causing muscular tension and pain. The physiological purpose of these adhesions is to stabilize an injured body region by generating stiffness in the surrounding tissues. The problem here is that immobilization is usually not the right way to approach the soft tissue injury as it may lead to an increase in pressure on the joint itself. As a result, nerves may become trapped between layers of restricted  muscle, fascia, and skin. This tension usually leads to pain and loss of muscle function/performance. ART therapy uses mobilization techniques to reverse this process and help improve mobility. The treatment itself is not typically a pleasurable experience, however most people are able to overlook this because of the relief they tend to feel afterwards.

What Are the Benefits of Active Release Therapy?

There are many potential benefits of receiving ART treatment including increased flexibility, improved range of motion optimal muscle function, and reduced pain levels.


Increased Flexibility/Range of Motion – This is accomplished by producing relaxation of the muscles and reducing any adhesions that may be found. This is especially beneficial for people who sit at a desk all day at work and feel resultant discomfort or for people who are very active during their work day and experience symptoms of muscle overactivity. Improving flexibility and range of motion will lead to improved athletic performance and decreased pain/discomfort while performing activities of daily living.

Improvements in chronic pain – Chronic pain is considered one of the main sources of dysfunction in older adults and well as people in their 20’s and 30’s. Although significant variation exists among specific diagnoses, one of the main hallmarks of chronic pain is inflammation, which can be soothed using ART techniques.

Performance enhancement– ART promotes quicker muscle recovery, thus decreasing soreness and the rest time required between training sessions or competition. For this reason, It is one of the most popular recovery tools utilized by elite athletes today. It improves blood flow to working muscles and injury sites which will help decrease pain and speed up the healing process. Enhancing your range of motion will also allow you to to move more freely and through a more natural trajectory at the joints involved.

Injury Prevention- ART helps restore normal muscle function and decreases strain on joints, which may help prevent injury during physical activity and normal daily tasks like bending down and lifting. Many athletes utilize this treatment to help upkeep their bodies during the season and prepare it for the upcoming season. By preventing the laying down of scar tissue, we are preventing adhesion formation and therefore


What sets ART apart from other soft tissue treatments?

ART is an aggressive soft tissue modality that utilizes a combination of manual pressure/massage with active movement from the patient. This combination of therapies is effective in treating soft tissue adhesions, myofascial trigger points, and joint pain. People who receive ART treatment report significant improvements in stiffness, flexibility, pain, tenderness, recovery, and performance as compared to massage on its own.

What can I expect out of Active Release Therapy?

Since ART is a very precise form of treatment, it can sometimes feel painful or overly aggressive. It's important to be thoroughly examined by your physician or physical therapist before you begin this type of treatment to ensure that you are a good candidate. Some people may experience significant improvements after just one ART session, but everyone’s body will respond differently to the onset of this treatment. Experiencing mild pain and soreness after a treatment session is normal in the beginning, however your body will eventually adapt to this pressure as time goes on. If you are feeling severe pain during treatment, please let your healthcare practitioner know, however moderate discomfort is normal. Please note that healthcare providers who utilize ART treatment should be certified in the use of active release techniques.

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