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Active Release Technique (ART)

Soft tissues, muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, and nerves can develop adhesions (areas of dense collagen fibers) and scar tissue. This is the way the body responds to soft tissue injuries. They are a common source of pain, weakness, and motion restrictions. Adhesions and scar tissues form between tissues binding them together which can lead to dysfunction and pain. They can develop after an injury or repetitive motion. Symptoms include numbness, tingling, aching, burning and weakness. Scar tissue causes most problems like muscle pain.

What is active release technique?

Active Release Technique is a movement-based soft tissue technique utilized to treat problems with muscle, tendons, ligaments, fascia, and nerves. The focus is on releasing adhesions and bands of scar tissue to restore unhindered range of motion, release trapped nerves, blood vessels and lymph tissues to restore soft tissue function and relieve pain.

When utilized as part of a physical therapy plan of care, ART is used to restore function and movement, and reduce pain. This form of manual therapy involves having the patient move the affected tissue in specific patterns while the clinician manually applies pressure.

How does ART work?

ART is both a diagnostic technique and a treatment. At your initial visit, the therapist will ask about your medical history including your specific problems, when they began and what you think caused them. Then they will conduct a hands-on evaluation and feel for adhesions and scar tissues. When they can identify the locations of your pain and underlying adhesions and scar tissues, they will be able to diagnose the cause of your condition and to treat the problems with manual therapy. This process may be repeated each session to ensure the areas treated have resolved and to identify existing and new areas that require treatment. Following treatment it is important to participate in rehabilitation to ensure your symptoms are gone.

What conditions can be treated with Active Release Technique?

Active release technique is most commonly used to treat conditions that are related to soft tissue damage, such as:

  • Tendinitis
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Epicondylitis (tennis elbow)
  • Shin splints
  • Plantar fasciitis (heel pain)
  • Trigger finger
  • Thoracic outlet syndrome
  • Myofascial pain syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Patellofemoral pain syndrome (knee pain)
  • Achilles tendinosis
  • Strains and sprains

Active release technique can also be used to treat other conditions, such as:

  • Headaches
  • Back pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Neck pain
  • Jaw pain (TMJ)
  • Sports injuries
  • Stress fractures
  • Nerve entrapment syndromes
  • Pelvic pain
  • Pregnancy-related back pain
  • Golfer’s elbow
  • Hip pain
  • Piriformis syndrome
  • Sacroiliac joint dysfunction
  • Tendinitis
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Epicondylitis (tennis elbow)
  • Shin splints
  • Plantar fasciitis (heel pain)
  • Trigger finger
  • Thoracic outlet syndrome
  • Myofascial pain syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Patellofemoral pain syndrome (knee pain)
  • Achilles tendinosis

Benefits include improved flexibility, range of motion, and reduce pain. It can provide relief in as little as one session but typically require several treatments. ART is effective to enhance sports performance for active people, and people with chronic pain due to overuse.

When you or a loved one suffers from pain and dysfunction, contact CAO Sports Performance and Therapy to discover how manual therapy can improve your pain and quality of life. We have offices in California, Leonardtown, and Waldorf, Maryland for your convenience.


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