Active Release Technique

Active Release Technique or ART is the gold standard of soft tissue therapy for sports injuries. Injured muscles, ligament, fascia, tendons and nerves all respond extremely well with Active Release Technique therapy. What separates ART treatment from classic massage or muscle work, is the specific, applied tension to the muscle. In fact, it is the very precise movement to ensure the smooth movement of tissue and the directed breaking up of scar tissue to restore function with minimal treatment time. There are hundreds of protocols for treating every muscle, tendon, ligament, fascia, and nerve in the body. Active Release Technique is so specific and powerful that it is the only soft tissue therapy that is patented.


With Active Release Technique, the whole structure (of muscle, tendon, ligament, nerve or fascia) can be treated instead of a particular section. It is the active motion, directed pressure, and specificity of treatment of the muscle that allows the doctor to break up the adhesions. So what is an “adhesion” anyway? An adhesion is a fibrous tissue that develops from a small tear in the muscle, tendon or ligament. Some people may call this “scar tissue” as well. How does it get there in the first place?

An adhesion can develop 3 ways:

  • Acute injury (trauma)
  • Overuse (repetitive motion injury)
  • Constant pressure/tension for extended periods of time (ie. poor posture)


The adhesion, or scar tissue, should be reduced for many reasons. Adhesions limit blood flow to the structure, shorten the muscle and decreases the function of the structure. This can cause pain, weakness and sometimes numbness if the adhesion is putting pressure on a nerve.

The soft tissue changes that occur following an injury are:

  1. Inflammation  (24 – 72 hours)
  2. Stringy muscles lesions (2 days – 2 weeks)
  3. Lumpy tissue, palpable adhesions (2 weeks – 3 months)
  4. Leathery tissue changes slowly and is more chronic (3 months or more)

Each treatment only takes a few passes over the structure and accomplishes greater results in a shorter amount of time than other soft tissue therapies.  Active Release Technique is extremely effective when it comes to treating soft tissue conditions whether it be athletic injuries or work-related pain. Here are examples of conditions Active Release Technique (ART) helps with:

  • Shin Splints
  • Piriformis Syndrome
  • Iliotibial Band (IT Band) dysfunction
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS)


To be certified as an Active Release Technique provider you must hold a professional health degree. This includes chiropractors, medical doctors, physical therapists, and massage therapists. So, what sets apart ART treatment by sports chiropractors from the rest is the ability to correctly and effectively diagnose the tissues that need to be worked on? Without a thorough history, examination, and orthopedic tests, ART can still be misguided. Therefore, a sports chiropractor will be able to combine the specific diagnosis with the most effective and efficient treatment instead of just guess work.


Chances are if you have a sports injury, you would benefit from Active Release Technique. If you feel stiff, tight, or have chronic pain or problems, don’t hesitate to book an appointment today or call in to (415) 421-1115 to see if sports chiropractic and Active Release Technique is right for you.