6 Benefits Of the Active Release Technique (ART)

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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The active release technique is very popular for people who suffer from excess scar tissue and flexibility problems.

What is the Active Release Technique?

The active release technique (ART) is a type of soft tissue treatment, similar to a massage in certain ways, that can reduce adhesions and the binding effects of scar tissue in the joints and muscles. By applying pressure with the hands in specific places, once a trained practitioner has identified your problem areas, some patients can actually perform this technique on themselves. The majority of people who undergo treatment with this technique report significant improvement, even in long-term, chronic injuries.

How does Active Release Work?

The active release technique works to reduce the amount of dense scar tissue in specific areas of the body. This scar tissue, often referred to as adhesions, are intended to protect the body and repair it following an injury, but it can have negative side effects.

For example, when one of these adhesions binds two muscle groups that aren’t typically connected, it can pinch nerves, cause a loss of flexibility or mobility, or reduce muscle strength. By directing targeted pressure on those areas, it is possible to break up the scar tissue, encourage circulation, and promote more normal healing patterns that don’t restrict movement. ART, as it is commonly referred to, can become a part of your lifestyle and help to improve your overall health for years to come.

Hand massage

Active Release Techniques (ART) help in releasing tissue tension. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Benefits

The most important benefits of the ART (Active Release Technique) include boosting flexibility, increasing the range of motion, and soothing chronic lower back pain, among many others. It also helps in improving overall performance.

Flexibility

By eliminating the adhesions that bind abnormal muscle groups, you will be able to increase flexibility in the joints and lower your risk of injury. The ART can have a similar effect as yoga for many people.

Range of Motion

As you age, it is natural that your range of motion begins to diminish, making it hard to do daily activities. Through direct and specific pressure being applied to the shoulders, elbows, hips, and hands, you can increase your range of motion to be active and dextrous as you get older.

Chronic Lower Back Pain

For people suffering from chronic lower back pain, repeated sessions with a trained ART practitioner can loosen up those difficult-to-reach knots and cut down on the inflammation that people experience.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

For certain professions or lifestyle, carpal tunnel syndrome can be a debilitating condition, but with the effective use of the ART technique, you can resolve many of the symptoms, and prevent the buildup of tissue that makes the movement so painful.

Running Injuries

If you are a long-distance runner, injuries can be extremely serious, but regular use of the active release technique can prevent adhesions in the hamstring and quadriceps.

Scar Tissue Reduction

Scar tissue is the primary cause of muscle tightness, pinched nerves, and other common inflammation issues, but ART can break it up and relieve those problems before they become serious.

Word of Caution: Do not attempt to use this technique unless a doctor has explained which areas of the body require these techniques. The intensity of this technique can also be seen as painful or aggressive, so some people prefer more traditional soft tissue treatments, such as massage or acupressure.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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