When ART® is talked about in health and fitness, it’s not being referred to as paintings! ART® (Active Release Techniques) is a very advanced patented soft tissue method that releases connective tissue (fascia).
It was founded in 1984 by Dr Michael Leahy and is without doubt the best soft tissue technique in the world. It resolves issues that no other modalities can help with such as Osgood Schlatters and vertigo and even scar tissue that is over 20 years old!
Fascia is like super-strong cotton wool that intertwines in and around muscle tissue; it connects muscle to bone, surrounds organs and thickens in dense ‘sheet like’ configurations in particular areas of your body to form structures such as the ITB band (iliotibial band on the outer side of each leg. Releasing fascia helps to release muscle tissue, ligaments, nerves and scar tissue – especially thickened scar tissue that can be years old. Therefore, ART® is an amazing technique to help resolve older more chronic injuries. It is an extremely quick release which can be used to help any injury, in some cases 1-3 sessions are all you need. However, even for longer term issues you’d be surprised how few sessions you may need to resolve a chronic joint imbalance. That said, imbalances usually require rehabilitation exercises to strengthen your weaker muscles.
Unlike massage which focuses on the circulation system (to relax tight muscles, clear toxins and induce pliability in muscles), ART® can treat the same muscle or structure every second day so it’s beneficial for athletes or those with very physical jobs to have treatment 2-3 times a week to resolve an issue much quicker. One of the ‘gold’ aspects of ART® is releasing nerves. There are specific protocols for releasing nerves via muscle tissue but also meticulous protocols that release nerves directly from your spine.
Releasing muscles with ART induces an instant adaptation to your brain. The release improves function to your joint which means more oxygen and pliability in your muscles and the communication from to your brain to your muscles immediately transmits a stronger signal. So when you exercise following treatment (ideally the next day) you should see an instant benefit. Hence, ART® is very efficient at helping you to gain strength.
With this in mind, ART® is such a fast and efficient soft tissue release it can reduce pain extremely quickly to speed up the healing process of most injuries. With regard to performance, the more anatomical you are (perfect posture), the more you benefit in the weights room and with body weight exercises (muscle ups/martial arts/handstands etc), i.e. you gain strength very quickly. As long as you are consistent you will see great results with injuries and for prevention.
Every session of ART® is both treatment and a constant assessment of your muscles and structures. Although the basic concept is for a therapist to take tension on a muscle/structure, shorten then lengthen your joint, the ‘art’ in active release techniques is the touch, palpation skills are the key to success. A therapist has to gauge a specific depth and direction of their tension as well as the slow speed of movement of your joint, it is a specific process that is all based on touch. To understand these movements, the therapist must learn an incredible amount of in-depth anatomy, over 500 protocols on the level 1 courses alone. Even elite medical staff in sport are surprised at how many new muscles and structures they learn on ART® courses.
Many athletes and people who have physical daily lives use ART® for preventing injuries, to resolve joint imbalances and to gain strength for work or for competitive purposes. Whatever the reason, you will get there very quickly with Active Release Techniques®.