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Active Release Technique

What Is Active Release Technique (A.R.T.)?

When an injury occurs to a muscle, tendon or ligament, it tends to become tight and inflamed. A cycle begins to take place where friction and inflammation around the injured area increases, causing the area to swell, constricting normal blood flow. The body’s natural response to this inflammation is reduced circulation, fibrosis (scar tissue formation) and muscular adhesions (tissues glued together).

This fibrosis and adhesions glues together the muscle fibers and surrounding structures, leading to pain and improper function. The muscles become tight, leathery and bound-up with a higher probability to injure again. The pain comes and goes causing each flare-up to a little worse than the previous. Hence, the cycle continues. Physical therapy, massage and even chiropractic typically cannot fix this problem. At this point, most After an injury, only Active Release Technique can put soft tissue back to what nature intended. Dr. Leahy, the founder of Active Release techniques, explains more, “The ‘art” of it all is being able to know where to look for adhesions, how to feel for them and how to use active motion of the body part to break them up.” Active motion separates this procedure from most other soft-tissue manipulation techniques. “To break an adhesion, you actually have to put your thumb and fingers on it and make it move in a way that breaks it away from the tissue.”

During a session, both the doctor and patient can feel the adhesion rip apart. “It kind of hurts,” Leahy says. But most people describe it as ‘hurts good’.” Only six to twelve sessions are needed to fix most problems. The results can be so instantaneous that many patients can work out or train after a treatment. While some patients need further treatments, most can maintain the improvements with proper diet, exercise, and stretching program.

Three Ways Your Body Creates Myofascial Adhesions

Injuries that result in adhesions can occur in not-so-obvious ways. Perhaps you will be able to figure out which mechanism of injury is responsible for your pain when reading this section.

1. Major Trauma (Acute Injury)

Major trauma refers to injuries that occur suddenly with alot of FORCE, such as blunt trauma, slips/trips/falls, car accidents and typical strains and sprains from a single incident. In such situations the large amount of force casues sudden and significant tearing to the soft tissues. Bleeding will then occur, causing scar-tissue/adhesions to set in. This is all part of the healing process.

2. Micro-Trauma (Repetitive Injury)

ANY activity, when done repeatedly over and over again, may be causing microscopic tearing to your muscles or tendons. You will not even notice any pain at first with this level of microscopic tearing. The microscopic tear heals with a little bit of scar tissue. As the tearing accumulates with repeated use, we may eventually begin to feel a slight pain or twinge. Eventually, with Repeated "Micro Trauma," the scar-tissue adhesion grows large enough to cause pain that interferes with daily activities or athletic events.

Repetitive Stress Injuries can occur in any occupation or activity that requires repetitive action, involving:
1. Repetitive tasks with small, rapid movements
2. Insufficient rest time between movements
3. Working in awkward or fixed postures for extended periods of time
4. Excessive and forceful movements, used repetitively
Common examples of Repetitive Micro-trauma are computer / mouse work, endurance sports (such as running, bicycling, swimming, triathlons, etc.), tennis, and other short arc-repetitive motion sports. Perhaps the most common and worst form of repetitive stress is that from POOR POSTURE. This is because the muscles in the neck and back are in a chronic state of contraction, seldom getting a chance to rest.

3. No Trauma (Constant Tension Within Or On The Muscle/ Tissue)

Ever notice that when you make a tight fist your skin turns a little pale? This is because the blood is being squeezed out of hand by the Constant Tension. The same thing happens when you have muscles in your body that are constantly tight: it squeezes the blood out. This condition is called "Tissue Hypoxia".
A muscle that is tight is a muscle that has to do work to stay tight, meaning that it is burning energy, and needs oxygen and glucose and other nutrients. But with a decreased blood supply, the muscle begins to starve and chemical damage occurs. This leads to the same process of inflammation, bleeding and scar-tissue adhesion buildup.
"Non-Traumatic" type injuries may also refer to injuries that are chemical or nutritional in nature. For example, smoking can reduce blood supply to joints, leading to arthritis.

Why Pain Tends To Linger

The Vicious Adhesion / Cumulative Injury Cycle

When adhesions form anywhere in your muscles, tendons or ligaments, they negatively impact the strength and flexibility of that tissue. Quite often after the adhesion has been there awhile you start to feel the problem 'spread' to other areas or just simply get worse or more debilitating.
When adhesions form anywhere in your muscles, tendons or ligaments, they negatively impact the strength and flexibility of that tissue. Quite often after the adhesion has been there awhile you start to feel the problem 'spread' to other areas or just simply get worse or more debilitating.
Repetitive Stress Injuries occur as a result of CUMULATIVE TRAUMA and overuse of soft tissues. Soft tissues that are forced to perform the same job OVER and OVER become IRRITATED AND INFLAMED. Over time, the cumulative trauma experienced through the overuse of soft tissues can create more Constant Tension and reduce the blood circulation (Tissue Hypoxia) to these tissues. The tissue immediately next to the adhesion gets over-worked, over stressed, has increased friction leading to Repetitive Injury and more microscopic tearing.
The Constant Tension and Repetitive Injury lead to more Inflammation and Bleeding, which then leads to even more Adhesion buildup. The body does this because its response to inflammation is to lay down SCAR TISSUE in order to STABILIZE THE AREA. Once this happens, an ongoing cycle begins that worsens the condition. The longer this cycle persists, the HARDER it becomes to avoid permanent soft tissue damage.
At Elite Performance & Pain Center we understand the long term benefits of functional rehab. As we address your biomechanical and soft tissue conditions, we must also pay extremely close attention to rehabilitating the injured or dysfunctional tissues. Rehabilitation therapy's focus is to retrain, retone, and recondition weakened, injured, or overworked structures, addressing functional deficits. This help to prevent or reduce the chance of re-injury!
Too often we see patients that have gone to other clinics, been treated for months, yet still are having the same symptoms or problems. Complete resolution of these musculoskeletal conditions often requires integrating different types of therapies, depending on the source of tissue dysfunction. The integration of Active Release Technique(A.R.T.) for soft tissue conditions along with specific chiropractic adjustments for bone and joint structural misalignments, allows for a more quick and complete healing process. Long term corrections of these common conditions often require implementing physical rehabilitation to retrain, retone, and recondition injured or overworked musculoskeletal structures. You must change your actions to change your results!
Our clinic uses a variety of rehab protocols specific to each individual patient's needs. We use a variety of equipment that most people already have in their homes such as swiss exercise balls, therabands, dumb bells, yoga mats, etc. We try to integrate rehab recommendations with activities throughout your day at home, work, or even in the car. Change your actions, change your results. By implementing a combination of eccentric, concentric, and isometric exercises, proper muscular function and endurance can be restored!