Active Release Technique

Active Release Technique or ART is the preferred soft tissue therapy for sports injuries. Active Release Technique (ART) therapy has a profound effect on injured muscles, ligament, fascia, tendons, and nerves.

You might ask does active release technique work? Well, what separates ART treatment from a regular 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.


What is Active Release Therapy? Active Release Technique treats the whole structure instead of a particular section. That means muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves or fascia are all being addressed at the same time! 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:

  1. Acute trauma (pulls, tears, collisions)
  2. Micro-trauma or Overuse (repetitive motion injury)
  3. Constant pressure or tension for prolonged periods of time (ie. poor posture)

active release pain cycle


Soft tissue conditions often do not show up in x-rays. When soft tissue has been injured, or even tight for any length of time, it forms scar tissue. While necessary for healing, scar tissue may stick to nearby structures inhibiting range of motion and may cause compression over nerves or blood vessels. This condition alters the texture of soft tissue, which an experienced ART provider can diagnose and treat.


Active Release Technique (ART) soft tissue management system is so different that it has been granted a medical patent. An ART provider is trained to palpate and treat more than 300 muscular and facial injuries and 100 nerve entrapments, which often cause numbness and tingling. When a patient comes to our clinic, we expect results. After only two to three visits we expect to see your pain decrease, range of motion increase, and your strength, speed, and endurance of the affected area improve. After four to six visits we expect a vast improvement in your condition. To develop strength and flexibility, we provide our patients with specific exercises and stretches that are essential to your rehabilitation.


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 post-injury soft tissue is susceptible to changes:

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

Any given session may only take a few passes over the structure. However, it almost always accomplishes greater results in a shorter amount of time compared to other soft tissue therapies.  Given its high level of effectiveness, Active Release Technique is great for treating soft tissue conditions whether it be athletic injuries or work-related pain. Here are examples of conditions Active Release Technique (ART) helps with:


What we hear the most is, “I have had this pain for forever, and up until now no one has been able to find the fix. You found the source of the problem right away.” ART providers are qualified to diagnose and treat over 500 structures of the body. They see a broad range of injuries and conditions. ART is successful for professional and amateur athletes, people injured in car accidents or at work, and desk-bound workers. Symptoms vary from aches and pains to burning muscles to numbness and tingling.


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 guesswork.


Chances are if you have a sports injury, you would benefit from Active Release Technique (ART). If you feel stiff, tight, or have chronic pain, 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.