by Timothy J Daly, DC 

If you’ve been online looking for ways to treat a nagging sports or soft tissue injury, you’ve likely run into the acronym ART (Active Release Techniques). And that’s with good reason, ART is often described as the “Gold Standard of Soft- tissue care”. But does it really matter? And what is the difference? I hope by the end of this article that I can make it clear. 

What is Active Release Techniques? 

Active Release Techniques is a hands on diagnosis and treatment approach to manage soft tissue injury. It allows providers to treat individual muscles, ligaments, interfaces between muscles, and areas where nerves can become entrapped. These generally require patient movement while the provider applies force to the appropriate tissue or groups of tissue. ART prides itself on influencing and resolving issues quickly because of its specificity, diagnostic process, and comfortable contact. 

How is Active Release Techniques different? 

Because of the way ART approaches tissue using palpation and motion, it allows providers to be extremely precise when addressing a problem. For example, if a patient is struggling with symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, an ART provider can assess the complaint and locate the site of compression. This allows us to accurately determine if the problem is actually carpal tunnel syndrome, or entrapment further along the path of the Median nerve. We can then treat the appropriate tissue, release the cause of compression, and improve the glide of the nerve to help resolve symptoms. 

Within the world of manual therapy, there are many many different named techniques. Massage therapists, Physical Therapists, and Chiropractors all have different approaches to manage similar problems. The majority of those approaches and techniques are all valid and have their particular uses. Active Release Technique simply sets itself apart by the approach to care and the rigorous standards they expect of their providers.

ART providers set themselves apart because of the standards they are expected to maintain. Certified providers are required to take courses annually that require weeks of intensive study, followed by an examination in order to maintain certification. That financial and academic investment is not an easy one, leading to a small number of professionals who choose to become certified. But being held to that rigorous standard ensures that if you find an ART provider, they will provide the same high standard of care and will be at the top of their soft tissue game. ART providers are usually found in the training room of every professional sports team, and are included in hospital systems and sports medicine offices nationwide.

If you want to see the list of certified providers in your area, simply head to the ART website and type in your address.

How does Active Release Techniques fit into care? 

If you receive care at Pinnacle Hill Chiropractic, you will almost certainly experience soft tissue treatment. Mechanical problems are very rarely related to a simple joint problem.  Muscles move joints and the nervous system controls that activity. Because of this, we will strive to treat all of the appropriate components of your injury including muscle, joint, ligament, and nerve. Our office offers an array of soft tissue therapies, but personally I have been utilizing ART for close to 10 years to help my patients. 

As a certified provider, I blend ART into my treatments alongside thorough testing, joint manipulation/mobilization, and appropriate rehab. That way we accurately work on what is wrong as well as work to address why it is happening. If you think ART might be part of your recovery, schedule an appointment with me HERE and let’s work together to help you overcome your injury.