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What is Active Release Therapy?

Active Release Therapy (ART) is a movement-based, soft tissue method aimed at relieving tissue tension by removing adhesions that develop in tissues. Certified therapists can use this method to diagnose and treat soft tissue injuries, especially those created by scar tissue. This patented system is a manual therapy treatment based on the evidence that muscles, blood vessels, and tissues develop adhesions due to a wide range of injuries, including acute, chronic, and pressure injuries. ART aims to reduce or remove these adhesions, restoring the motion of the affected muscles and joints, and is often used in soft tissue conditions where the symptoms include pain, weakness, tingling, and numbness.

How is Active Release Different?

ART was developed and patented by Dr. P. Michael Leahy and has three main purposes during treatment: to restore motion in all soft tissues, to release entrapped nerves, and to reestablish the ideal function and resilience of all soft tissues. Patient movement is required to help create tension on the scar tissue, and each session involves not only treatment but also an examination. And unlike other techniques, ART has more than 500 specific protocols that can treat specific, affected areas.

How does Active Release Work?

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Overuse or repetitive stress will increase tissue tension, and when this tension is chronic, adhesions will form, leading to the scar tissue that is how the body binds injured tissue. This becomes an issue when the scar tissue binds to nearby structures, which can lead to pinched nerves and general pain and discomfort. ART targets these different conditions, which tend to include rotator cuff issues, golfer’s elbow, tennis elbow, shoulder and back pain, and general muscle injuries. Many of the conditions best treats are those that have overused muscles.

Treatment involves manual hand contact on the identified tissue by using specific pressure and tension. The general technique finds your therapist applying pressure to the affected area and asking you to actively move the area of injury from a shortened to a lengthened position. The precise technique our chiropractor will use vary on the diagnosis but will generally be followed out over a longer period. There may be what patients describe as a “good hurt,” which is some initial discomfort due to the sensitivity of the area.

Over time, the active release has been proven to help increase the pain pressure threshold, hamstring flexibility, carpal tunnel syndrome, and overall pain caused by overused tissues. We perform a thorough orthopedic and functional exam to determine what tissues are most affected and if other therapies need to be combined alongside ART for a successful recovery.

If you suffer from soft tissue injuries and are curious to see if ART is a good fit for you, contact us at Effective Chiropractic in Lanham, MD, today. We will help develop a therapy plan to relieve and eliminate your pain as quickly and effectively as possible. Contact our office today to return to a pain-free life!

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