Active Release Technique® (ART®) is a highly successful approach to the diagnosis and treatment of muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and fascia, known as soft tissue. It is a non-invasive hands-on therapy performed by licensed healthcare providers who have completed post-graduate certification through multiple ART® seminars. Nearly all professional teams have an ART® trained provider servicing their athletes. The technique is also very popular with amateur athletes and weekend warriors alike, not only to help with rapid injury recovery but also for improving their athletic performance
Dr. Stuart Weitzman has spent a lot of time to become ART® certified in all level 1 and level 2 courses – Spine, Upper Extremity, Lower Extremity, Long Tract Nerve Entrapments, Biomechanics, Ironman® Provider, Masters, Active Palpation and SFMA. Dr. Weitzman led the ART® treatment team at Ironman® Lake Placid from 2011-2017, volunteering his time to treat the athletes competing in the days leading up to the race and helping out during the race. He is also an Assistant Instructor for ART where he helps teach ART to other providers for post-graduate education.
ART® providers utilize highly developed skills and anatomical knowledge, in conjunction with symptom patterns and functional testing, to locate scar tissue on and in between muscles and nerves. A precise hand or thumb contact is applied to the problem area and the patient is directed to move the region of the body through a specific range of motion. Through the combination of tension to the tissue from the provider and motion by the patient, the tissues will slide under the provider’s contact. This process has been proven to rapidly break up scar tissue and yield recovery of many types of soft tissue conditions.
ART® is utilized for Injury Care and for Performance Care
Injury Care is used to treat and resolve a broad range of soft-tissue injuries and return these tissues to full function. It works to remove the adhesions and restrictive tissues that are laid down when the tissue suffers repeated trauma. This can be the cause of why your tissues are dysfunctional, producing pain or discomfort, tight or restricting range of motion.
Once the patient has restored normal function to the affected tissue and finished with Injury care, the patient can decide to maximize the performance of that tissue. This is Performance Care and the Doctor will look at Gait analysis, movement patterns, and posture in order to identify tissues that can be preventing normal and smooth movements. Dr. Weitzman uses Selective Functional Movement Assessments, Functional Movement Screens, Gait Analysis and utilizes his personal experience as an athlete to find those biomechanical insufficiencies. All of these can be a measure of your progress along with your actual sports performance.
What happens to my tissues when they are injured?
When tissues are injured it results in a series of physiological responses, Inflammation, Repair, Remodeling, and Maturation. The initial physiological response by the body is swelling or “Inflammation” in the affected area/tissue. During this phase, the circulation and accumulation of fluids within the injured tissue are increased as the body begins to control the damage and remove irritants from the site of injury. The inflammation will lead to increased tension and internal pressure within the injured tissue and the surrounding structures.
In an attempt to heal the injury and stabilize the area, the body will begin the “Repair” process. Fibroblasts begin to create fibrous tissues. This generally consists of the laying down of fibrotic scar tissue and adhesions in and around the injured structures. This scar tissue is generally a lower grade of tissue than the original one and is both functionally and structurally deficient, lacking elasticity and limiting proper circulation and function. As circulation is reduced, tissue hypoxia (decreased oxygen) develops.
During the final 2 phases of “Remodeling” and “Maturation,” the body is simply attempting to organize and orient the newly formed fibers so as to restore the injured tissue closer to its natural state. Unfortunately, as miraculous as the body is, it does a poor job of tissue restoration. The final result is a tougher, less elastic, shortened, and therefore weakened tissue, which causes restriction of motion between muscle layers as well as nerves. For the athlete, this means poorer performance and less than desirable results. For the general public and athletes both, this means pain and discomfort at the site of injury; or in the case of peripheral nerve entrapments which are commonly caused after such injuries, pain, numbness, and tingling radiating into the arms or legs. The resulting pain typically will start a process of “compensatory change”, which will begin affecting other tissues and structures in that kinetic chain.
What is an adhesion? / Is it the same as scar tissue?
An adhesion is that fibrotic tissue laid down in the repair process. Technically that can be considered scar tissue, but scar tissue is really when the fibrotic tissue has been there for a long time and starts to harden.
Is a deep tissue massage the same thing?
No. Deep Tissue massage can be very beneficial, but very different that ART®. This is working the muscles while you are laying down and not moving. ART® is different in the way it takes the tissues through a range of motion with a specific contact to comb through adhesions in the muscles.
Do I need an adjustment with ART® also?
There are some instances where the structure that the muscles attach to (Skeletal system) or framework can dictate the function of the muscle. With ART® the muscles can be improved, but only to a certain point because the repetition of movements on an imbalanced frame will recycle the same soft tissue problems. This is where an adjustment can balance out the framework and reset the muscle length making treatment more successful in a shorter time. As a Chiropractor, I know the great benefits of the combination of ART® and Chiropractic.
Can’t I remove the adhesions myself with a roller or won’t it go away on its own if I lay off it?
The body has no mechanism to reduce scar tissue naturally. It requires treatment. Although the body can sometimes adapt to and tolerate, a certain amount of scar tissue, it will not function optimally and can cause further injury.
How quickly can treatment be successful?
Most sessions require only 10 to 15 minutes to complete. Depending on how long the individual has had the injury, the number of treatments, almost always, falls between 2 and 20, with an average of 6 to 8 visits.
Click here for more information on ART®.