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Active Release Techniques and the Many Benefits

Whether you’re an office professional, busy mom or an elite athlete, anyone can suffer from painful and debilitating repetitive strain injuries. There is an innovative way to treat these injuries that affect muscles, tendons, and ligaments. It is used to treat head to toe injuries—from headaches to plantar fasciitis. Also, it is used to treat other injuries including TMJ, shin splints, carpal tunnel syndrome, shoulder pain and sciatica.

The Technique

The technique is a soft tissue manual technique called Active Release Techniques (ART). Professionals use it to treat all of these overuse conditions that create micro-trauma. With repeated overuse, those small tears turn into worsening conditions with tears and pulls. As the injured area worsens, it typically is depleted of oxygen because of decreased circulation. Ultimately, this depletion can lead to the formation of scar tissue.

It is well-recognized how restrictive scar tissue buildup becomes. It restricts the tissues, binding them up, so they just don’t move freely anymore. Muscles become affected by the scar tissue by becoming shorter and weaker and increased tendon tension that can cause inflammation (tendonitis). Eventually, you lose range of motion and strength. Sometimes nerves can become trapped in the inflamed, restricted area, and you can experience tingling and numbness in the area.

Active release techniques (ART) is a way to manipulate the soft tissue. And the scar tissue adhesions that have formed as a result of the overuse injury are manually broken up. These adhesions are what are entrapping muscles and causing pain. Best of all, it’s a natural treatment without medications or surgery.

How It Works

Dr. Rofrano examines the injured area for points of tightness and restricted movements of muscles, tendons, ligaments and surrounding soft tissue. Abnormal tissues are treated by the doctor providing precise, directed tension while you perform specific movements. There are over 500 movements that comprise ART therapies. Doctors use them to identify and correct your condition.

ART is more specifically targeted and precise than deep tissue massage. The technique was invented by Colorado chiropractor and sports physician P. Michael Leahy.  He used it to treat his athlete clients for chronic pain and injuries.

Trained medical professionals know how to feel for these adhesions. They locate them, manipulate them and break them up. There is minimal pain and discomfort. For more extensive adhesions, you will be able to feel them breaking apart. Your session with the doctor could be 10-30 minutes, depending on your specific case.

Additionally, the results can be instantaneous. You will be amazed after having tried other techniques with little to no success. The doctor will likely recommend follow-up treatments to continue with pain relief and to  restore normal texture and range of motion to the area.

Are You A Candidate?

You might be wondering whether you need ART. If you experience stiffness in your neck or any joint or have reduced the range of motion or flexibility, you can benefit. If your joints are inflamed or if you have throbbing pain after exercise, you can benefit. And if you feel that you’ve lost muscle strength in a particular area, you can benefit.

Initially developed for elite athletes, Active Release Techniques has made its way into medicine as a mainstream technique used for all kinds of patients. Overuse injuries are so much more common today, with a higher prevalence of technology overuse injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome in the workplace. Now, most everyone can benefit from ART. In addition, companies lose many sick days to these types of repetitive strain injuries.

Of course, it is still widely used among athletes, but ART can be used in any area of the body where soft tissue is located near a joint. Overuse injuries in these areas have likely led to scar tissue formation over time.

We treat tennis players and golfers for elbow injuries and have used it for Achilles tendinitis, rotator cuff injury, and supraspinatus tendon injuries. And many patients with chronic neck and back pain have been able to significantly decrease or eliminate their pain while simultaneously increasing range of motion.

Here are some of the issues that can be treated with Active Release Techniques:

-Neck pain

_Upper back pain


-Low back pain and Sciatica

-Arm and hand pain

-Leg and foot pain, including shin splints and plantar fasciitis

-Tension headaches and migraines

-Shoulder pain, including rotator cuff injuries and frozen shoulder syndrome

Breaking up is hard to do, but in this case, you’ll look forward to it. You’ll be surprised how much your condition can improve after one session of treating the soft tissues. Your joints can feel better and your nerve issues can subside. And you can feel less stress on that area of your body.

Fortunately, therapies such as ART can relieve pain, increase the range of motion, and help improve the overall quality of your life.

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