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Day: May 10, 2017

ART … Is it right for me?

ART … Is it right for me?

You might have heard of this acronym from a chiropractor, massage therapist, athletic therapist, or physiotherapist, and not really known what they were talking about.  Dr. Michael Leahy, the founder and developer of ART, is a doctor of chiropractic in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He utilized his background in aeronautical engineering and anatomy to develop a system of treating soft tissue injuries not responding to other forms of therapy.


Here is some essential background information on ART to give you some insight into a very effective treatment protocol.

What is ART (Active Release Technique)?

ART is a soft tissue system that is centered on movement based massage techniques. It can treat problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and nerves. Some of the conditions it can help resolve include headaches, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, shin splints, sciatica, plantar fasciitis, knee pain and tennis elbow. There are over 500 specific protocols within the ART system to diagnose and treat a multitude of soft tissue based problems. Each ART session combines both the physical examination and treatment as the provider evaluates the texture, tightness and movement of the soft tissues using his or her hands. Most of the conditions that can be resolved using ART occur as a result of overused muscles.

You are probably wondering what causes an overuse condition. Aren’t muscles meant to be ‘used’? An ‘over-used’ muscle (ligament, tendon, etc.) can change in three important ways. First there are acute conditions. These include strains/sprains, pulls, collisions and tears. These present more as an acute injury. Secondly, there is the accumulation of small tears, otherwise known as micro-trauma. This is generally seen with tasks involving repetitive motion like throwing, running, using a mouse or a keyboard or improper sitting and standing posture. The third is when the muscle is not receiving enough oxygen, in which case the muscle enters into a state of hypoxia.

Each of these factors can contribute to the production of tough, dense scar tissue in the affected area. This scar tissue binds up and ties down tissues that need to have the ability to slide freely past each other. As scar tissue builds up, muscles become shorter and weaker, tension on tendons results in tendinitis, and nerves can become trapped. All of this combined can contribute to reduced range of motion in a joint, loss of strength, and pain. If there is a trapped nerve present, you may also feel tingling, numbness, and weakness.

The purpose of ART is to find these areas of scar tissue where the various soft tissues have formed an adhesion to each other. Once that area is found, tension is applied and the muscle is moved in an anatomically specific direction to maximize friction under the contact area. This breaks up the adhesion (scar tissue) and allows the structures to slide freely past each other, restoring motion to the area.

Any other questions about ART? Ask Dr. Terry Dickson or Dr. Anita Hildebrandt today!

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