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Can Active Release Technique Help With Accute and Chronic Pain?

Updated: Oct 11


If you suffer from chronic or acute pain, finding the right treatment option is vital if you want to get some relief and resume your normal day-to-day life. And, for many people, finding a non-invasive treatment that has few side effects is also important. Active Release Techniques (ART) is a revolutionary method of relieving tension in muscles and soft tissue that can help people who suffer from a variety of painful conditions.

What is Active Release Techniques?

Active Release Techniques was developed by Dr P. Michael Leahy, a chiropractor. It is based on the idea that repetitive use or strain can cause the soft tissue to develop adhesions - bands of scar tissue. Adhesions are usually formed through overuse, which can cause micro-tears in the muscle and soft tissue.


These micro-tears trigger your body to form scar tissue around the area to protect it, but over time the adhesions can block blood flow to the area and link different parts of the soft tissue together that wouldn't normally be linked, which reduces mobility. It can also trap nerves and make the muscles shorter.


While there may not be an obvious initial injury, symptoms of adhesions can include:

• weakness

• numbness

• aching

• tingling

• burning

• pain

The first step in ART is for the practitioner to identify if there are any adhesions, where they are, and what problems they could be causing. Once the location of the adhesions is established, then a treatment plan can be developed using ART techniques. There are 500 techniques in total, all of which can help with slightly different problems.


There are lots of soft tissue techniques that can help to relieve some painful conditions, but the Active Release Techniques is unique because it is active rather than passive. At its most basic, ART involves the patient moving their muscle in a specific way to first shorten it and then lengthen it while the practitioner applies pressure to the affected area. This works to break up any adhesions that are present and to relieve the tension in the soft tissue.

How can Active Release Technique help people suffering from chronic or acute pain?

Active Release Techniques is most often associated with acute injuries because adhesions are often formed from overuse, for example, during training. Once the treatment has ended, you can expect to experience:

• restored range of motion

• restored stability and function

• reduction in pain

• faster recovery


But Active Release Technique can also help people suffering from certain chronic pain conditions, including:

• back pain

• carpal tunnel syndrome

• sciatica

• knee problems

• headaches

• shoulder problems

• chronic bursitis


Generally, Active Release Techniques requires fewer sessions to restore function and mobility, and to reduce pain, than other soft tissue techniques. And breaking up the scar tissue means that the results can be longer-lasting.


Active Release Techniques is a highly-regarded soft tissue treatment that can help to restore function and reduce pain by breaking up adhesions within the soft tissue. It is most often used to treat acute injuries that stem from overuse, but it can be an effective treatment for some chronic pain conditions as well.


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