Active Release Technique (ART) is a soft tissue system/movement based massage technique that treats problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, and nerves. The goal of ART as a form of physical therapy treatment, is to restore optimal texture, motion, and function of the soft tissue by releasing muscular restrictions and release any entrapped nerves or blood vessels in over-used muscles.
Over-used muscles can cause your body to produce tough, dense scar tissue and adhesions in the affected area. These adhesions bind up and restrict normal movement causing muscles to become shorter and weaker. These changes can lead to tendon injury, tendonitis, and nerve entrapment causing reduced range of motion, loss of strength, and pain.
In an ART treatment the provider uses his hands to evaluate the texture, tightness, and movement of the patient’s soft tissue. Using hand pressure, the practitioner works to remove or break up the fibrous adhesions with the stretching motions generally in the direction of venous and lymphatic flow, although the opposite direction may occasionally be used. The patient is often required to actively move the affected tissue in prescribed ways while the practitioner applies pressure. Involvement of the patient is seen as an advantage of ART, as people who are active participants in their own health care are believed to experience better outcomes.