The ART of Active Release

Picture yourself participating in one of your favorite activities - riding your bike, playing soccer or working out and BOOM you go down! You were rounding third, sliding into home and you pulled your hamstring. Maybe you play tennis and that nagging pain in your shoulder just won't go away. You've tried rest, ice, compression and elevation but your injury isn't getting any better. What can you do?

Consider Active Release Technique (ART) which is a soft tissue/movement based massage technique that treats problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and nerves. ART is often used to treat conditions related to adhesions or scar tissue in overused muscles. Adhesions are a result of the damaged tissue being replaced with scar tissue. Scar tissue can become a problem because the blood supply is limited preventing the injured area from healing. As these adhesions build up, muscles become shorter and weaker, the motion of the muscles and joints are altered and nerves can be compressed resulting in pain and poor mobility.

Once you find a provider (make sure they are certified in ART), your sessions will consist of hands-on-treatment. Your practitioner will evaluate the texture, tightness, and mobility of the soft tissue. Then he or she will work to remove or break up the adhesions. Stretching is also used to release the area and provide mobility.

I was fortunate to find Dr. Jennifer Londergan who helped me get back to running without pain. I had been suffering from low back pain and tight hamstrings during and after my long runs. Dr. Londergan restored mobility and function in my hips and addressed issues with my IT Bands. This work resulted in alleviating all of my low back pain and 95% of my hamstring issues. Years ago, I severely injured my right hamstring and it will never be 100% so getting back to 95% was good enough for me. Dr. Kevin Rindal also provides ART in Seattle, although I have not worked with him personally. He is featured in Runner's World Magazine.

ART can be used to treat headache, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, shin splints, shoulder pain, sciatica, plantar fasciitis, knee problems, tennis elbow and many other conditions caused by overuse. In many cases these conditions can be resolved quickly and permanently. ART is not appropriate for a blunt trauma injury or active inflammation.

There is no need to suffer from injuries when there are many treatment options available. ART may not be right for you but trying out different types of treatment can help you return to full function and health.