Active Release Techniques is a recently developed method for
addressing soft tissue adhesions and dysfunctions. ART was developed
by Dr. Michael Leahy, a doctor of chiropractic based in Colorado
Springs, Colorado. His Aeronautical Engineering degree and
experiences from the U.S. Air Force Academy were combined with his
knowledge of human systems to find a better way to treat soft tissue
injuries. The result was Active Release Techniques.
What is ART?
ART provides a way to diagnose and treat the underlying causes of
cumulative trauma disorders that result in symptoms of numbness,
tingling, burning and aching. ART is a type of manual hands-on
therapy that corrects muscular and soft tissue problems caused by
adhesion formation as a result of injury, overuse or cumulative
What is Cumulative Trauma?
Cumulative Trauma disorder (CTD), Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI),
Repetitive Motion injury, are all used to describe problems that
arise from the cumulative injury cycle (CIC). Some common names of
these conditions are Carpal tunnel syndrome, rotator cuff syndrome,
chronic low back pain, whiplash injury and poor posture. CTD's
create physical signs and symptoms that are predictable and
correctable using ART.
What is the cumulative injury cycle (CIC)?
If you set a pendulum into motion, you don't have to keep pushing
it each time, it keeps going! Our bodies respond in much the same
way. That's why it hurts even after the stress is removed. The cycle
can be started in three ways, Acute Injury, Repetitive Injury and
constant Pressure or Tension. Left uncorrected, they lead to
inflammation, adhesions/fibrosis, weak and tense tissues and
decreased circulation all in a specific progression called the
Cumulative Injury Cycle.
How do I know if I have a problem?
Our bodies are very adaptable, they have to be to survive. Our
bodies protect us from damage with pain signals and repair damaged
areas with scar tissue. Very often, we think we are "better"
after the pain goes away, however, what has happened is that the
problem area "healed" with scar tissue. You probably will
not be aware of the problem until a later date, maybe years from the
original injury. You can recognize adhesion problems by loss of
function. Loss of function could be a decrease in range of motion,
weakness, stiffness, soreness and many other symptoms that many like
to call "getting older". More accurately it 's "getting
stuck to yourself"
What are Adhesions?
Our bodies contain special protein structures called connective
tissue, also know as Fascia. This substance connects each part to
other parts and the whole, very much like a flexible skeleton. When
this tissue is healthy it is smooth and slippery, allowing the
muscles, nerves, blood vessels or organs to move freely and function
properly. Imagine a piece of scotch tape, the smooth side is healthy
fascia, the sticky side is scar tissue or unhealthy fascia. Rub the
tape along your skin, both sides,to "feel" what an
adhesion is like. The drag that you feel, the "pulling"
sensation, is what an adhesion is like. These adhesions attach to
muscles decreasing their ability to work properly. You really know
when you have an adhesion on a nerve, you get many abnormal
sensations like numbness, tingling or pain.
What's the difference between ART and
They may look and sound similar, but the procedures are actually
very different and the results they produce are very different.
There are many types of massage, generally massage promotes
relaxation and circulation. Neuromuscular Massage gets more specific
but it does not fix the soft tissue and make it work properly. ART
is protocol specific for the correction of adhesions & scar
tissues. Anyone who has had ART can tell you, It's NOT massage! Does
ART help Trigger Points? Yes, trigger points are tender spots in
muscles that cause you to feel referred pain. For example, a trigger
point in your infraspinatus muscle, the lower half of your shoulder
blade, will tell your brain that there is a problem in the front of
the shoulder. "Where it hurts it ain't!" By correcting the
muscle function the trigger point goes away and so does the pain
referral. Trigger points are a great indicator that ART is the
treatment you need!
Why haven't I heard of ART before?
Proficiency at ART takes a long time to develop. Training is hands
on. The right touch is the most difficult aspect learn. It takes a
strong commitment of time effort and resources to become a provider.
A few desire to do what it takes. Consequently, there is a small but
growing number of providers that have been personally trained by Dr.
Leahy. ART is rapidly becoming THE choice for TOP athletes.
How do I know if someone Provides Active
Release? "Active Release? Oh yeah, I do that, it's
like myofascial release right?." Oh really? Ask to see the
provider certificate signed by Dr. Leahy. Many practitioners may say
they do, when actually they do not. There are many types of
treatments for soft tissue that other people call active release.
Call the ART home office for verification of their credentials at
Who can benefit from ART?
ART has become regarded as a kind of "miracle treatment"
for pro-level athletes. Big names like Donovan Bailey, Olympic gold
medalist and Gary Roberts a hockey player, have benefited from ART.
Roberts was able to return to hockey after two neck surgeries failed
to correct his dizzy spells, he credits Dr. Leahy and ART with
fixing the problem. Clearly, ART can help everyone to one degree or
Do I really need Surgery?
Sometimes surgery is a clear cut case, a torn meniscus or ligament.
Yet other times it is less clear cut. Chronic pain and joint trouble
may actually be in the muscles and connective tissue and not in the
joint. If you surgeon wants to "Scope it " and see what
happens, you should consider ART. It is very common to restore
proper function to a particular muscle or group of muscle and have
the chronic symptoms disappear. You need to know what is wrong to
properly correct it, consider ART before surgery. Once you cut,
that's it, and you then have new scar tissue to deal with PLUS the
original adhesions in the muscles that were there before. It makes
sense doesn't it?
What is the treatment like?
ART is not a magic bullet or cure-all. Active Release Techniques is
noninvasive, very safe, and has virtually no side effects and comes
with a record of very good results. Treatments can be uncomfortable
during the movement phases as the scar tissue or adhesions "Break
up". This is temporary and subsides almost immediately after
the treatment. It is common to feel a duplication of your symptoms
during the treatment, a good indication that the problem has been
identified. Treatments are about 8-10 minutes per area treated and
vary in number from 2 to 10 visits typically. Chiropractic
manipulation is frequently done in addition to ART to increase the
effectiveness. Patients report that "It hurts good".
Will my condition or problem return after
Usually, the changes are permanent, but ultimately the answer
depends on the patient compliance with recommendations for after
care. "If you keep doing what your doing, you keep getting what
your getting". This is true for those with repetitive strain
injuries (RSI) or cumulative trauma injuries. To not alter the
patterns that got you injured in the first place will only cause the
problem to recur. An important part of ART treatments is the
provider's recommendations to activity modification, stretching and
exercises. Each individual is expected to commit to the suggestions
for the best results.
What conditions can ART help?
The list is extensive. To name just a few conditions: Rotator Cuff
(4 muscles really that move and stabilize the shoulder), Tendinitis
(runners shin splints, golfer's elbow, tennis elbow), Bursitis (the
body's anti-friction device for tendons), muscle pulls or strains,
frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis, knee pain (Problems with
quadriceps and ilio tibial band), muscle weakness, strength
imbalances, poor flexibility, poor posture, chronic muscle or joint
pain and stiffness, on and on...... If you think you have "tried
it all and nothing has worked", you probably have not had ART.
How does ART improve performance?
Performance of any task; golfing, typing and running faster can be
improved significantly with ART. Restoring proper muscle function
and movement enables the body to perform at its most efficient
level. Adhesions create drag and tension which requires more energy
and effort to accomplish a desired movement. Reaction times are also
able to be improved as muscle function is improved. ART allows the
body to do what you ask of it when you need it!
How do I make an appointment?
Just call the office at 905-389-9522 and ask about our ART
services. Our doctor is fully credentialed in this powerful
performance enhancing technique. You can find our office hours by
clicking on the Appointments
button at the bottom right of this page. We look forward to your