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ART Chiropractic

Exploring the Benefits of Active Release Technique

Active Release Technique (ART) has gained recognition as an effective soft tissue therapy that offers numerous benefits in addressing various musculoskeletal conditions. This article delves into the principles of ART, its potential benefits, and its application in treating scar tissue and overuse injuries, as well as its role in maintaining nerve, tendon, and muscle health.


ART was developed and patented by Dr. P. Michael Leahy, DC, CCSP, a Doctor of Chiropractic medicine. Dr. Leahy noticed that the symptoms of patients were related to changes in their soft tissues so he developed this technique which revolved around the patient's symptoms.      

What is Active Release Technique?

Active Release Technique, developed by Dr. Michael Leahy, is a patented manual therapy approach utilized by healthcare providers, particularly chiropractors, to address conditions related to soft tissue, including muscles, nerves, and connective tissue. The technique aims to restore the body's natural range of motion by targeting and treating issues such as scar tissue, overuse injuries, and nerve entrapment.

Understanding the Principles of Active Release Technique

The core principle of ART revolves around the manipulation of soft tissues through precise movements and tension, aimed at breaking up adhesions, releasing entrapped nerves, and restoring optimal functioning of muscles and joints. This approach helps in alleviating pain, improving flexibility, and enhancing overall musculoskeletal health.

How does Active Release Technique differ from other manual therapies?

Unlike traditional massage therapy that primarily focuses on relaxation and superficial muscle manipulation, ART targets specific issues within the soft tissue, aiming to resolve adhesions, scar tissue, and overuse injuries that may be impacting the individual's range of motion and causing discomfort.

What are the potential benefits of Active Release Technique?

When ART is administered effectively, it can lead to improved range of motion, reduced pain, enhanced flexibility, and better overall musculoskeletal function. Additionally, it may aid in addressing conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome, adhesions, and strains, contributing to a more proactive approach to soft tissue therapy.

Addressing Scar Tissue with Active Release Technique

Scar tissue can develop as a result of overused muscles, repetitive strain, or musculoskeletal injuries, leading to restricted range of motion and potential discomfort. ART offers a targeted approach to addressing scar tissue and its effects on the body.

How does ART target and treat scar tissue?

Through precise manual techniques, ART aims to break down scar tissue and adhesions, promoting the restoration of normal tissue texture and function. This can help alleviate restrictions in movement and reduce discomfort associated with scar tissue.

Can ART help with conditions related to scar tissue, such as adhesions or carpal tunnel syndrome?

Yes, ART has shown effectiveness in addressing conditions associated with scar tissue, including adhesions and carpal tunnel syndrome. By releasing tension and adhesions in the affected areas, ART can contribute to improved functionality and reduced symptoms in individuals dealing with these issues.

What are the possible effects of scar tissue on the body's range of motion and flexibility?

Scar tissue can lead to impaired range of motion, decreased flexibility, and potential discomfort in affected areas. By targeting and addressing scar tissue through ART, individuals may experience improvements in their overall mobility and reduced limitations associated with scar tissue formation.

Dealing with Overuse Injuries through Active Release Technique

Overuse injuries, often resulting from repetitive strain or excessive use of certain muscle groups, can lead to soft tissue damage and discomfort. ART plays a crucial role in addressing these injuries and their associated symptoms.

How does overuse contribute to soft tissue injuries that can be treated with ART?

Overuse can result in microtraumas within the soft tissue, leading to the development of adhesions, scar tissue, or strains. ART can target these specific issues, promoting the recovery of affected tissues and relieving associated discomfort.

Can ART sessions help alleviate overuse-related pain and discomfort in specific areas of the body?

Yes, ART sessions are designed to address overuse-related pain and discomfort by targeting the affected areas and effectively releasing adhesions or scar tissue that may be contributing to the symptoms. This allows for improved tissue healing and reduced discomfort.

What role does ART play in addressing strains and ligament injuries caused by overuse?

ART can effectively address strains and ligament injuries resulting from overuse by promoting the restoration of normal tissue texture and flexibility. Through targeted techniques, ART helps in alleviating the impact of overuse on ligaments and soft tissues, contributing to improved healing and functional recovery.

Understanding an ART Session

During an ART session, the practitioner utilizes specific movements and tension to target and treat soft tissue issues within the body. It is essential to have a comprehensive understanding of what to expect during an ART session and its potential outcomes.

What typically happens during an Active Release Technique session?

ART sessions involve the practitioner utilizing hands-on techniques to locate and treat specific issues within the soft tissue. The individual is often guided through a series of movements to target affected areas, leading to the release of adhesions and the restoration of natural tissue texture.

How is the Graston Technique related to Active Release Technique, and how do they differ?

The Graston Technique, like ART, is a manual therapy approach used to address soft tissue issues. However, the key difference lies in the tools utilized; the Graston Technique involves the use of specialized instruments to target adhesions, while ART relies on manual movements to address soft tissue restrictions.

What can individuals expect in terms of sensation or discomfort during an ART treatment?

During an ART treatment, individuals may experience varying sensations, including mild discomfort or a stretching sensation as the affected areas are targeted. These sensations are indicative of the treatment's effectiveness in addressing specific soft tissue issues.

The Role of Active Release Technique in Nerve, Tendon, and Muscle Health

ART plays a significant role in maintaining optimal nerve, tendon, and muscle health by addressing issues such as nerve entrapment, muscle adhesions, and connective tissue restrictions, contributing to improved overall musculoskeletal function.

How does Active Release Technique impact nerve and tendon health?

ART aims to release nerve and tendon adhesions and restrictions, promoting improved nerve signaling and enhancing tendon flexibility and functionality. This, in turn, contributes to reduced symptoms related to nerve entrapment and improved overall nerve and tendon health.

What is the significance of maintaining healthy muscles and joints through ART?

Maintaining healthy muscles and joints through ART is crucial in promoting overall musculoskeletal function, reducing the risk of overuse injuries, and enhancing flexibility and range of motion. ART aids in preventing and addressing soft tissue issues that may impact muscle and joint health.

Can ART be beneficial in alleviating symptoms like tingling, numbness, or back pain?

ART has shown effectiveness in alleviating symptoms such as tingling, numbness, or back pain by targeting and addressing the underlying soft tissue issues contributing to these symptoms. By promoting optimal tissue health, ART can lead to reduced discomfort and improved nerve and muscle functionality.                                        


Used to treat symptoms in muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, and nerves. 

  • to restore free and unimpeded motion of all soft tissues
  • to release entrapped nerves, vasculature, and lymphatics
  • to re-establish optimal texture, resilience, and function of soft tissues.


Tissues are prone to negative changes from trauma, such as swelling, fibrosis, and adhesions. During treatment, the clinician uses manual therapy to apply compressive, tensile, and shear forces to address repetitive strain injuries, cumulative trauma injuries, and constant pressure tension lesions. The clinician applies deep tension at the area of tenderness whilst the patient is instructed to actively move the injury site from a shortened to a lengthened position. The placing of a contact point near the lesion causes the patient to move in a manner that produces a longitudinal sliding motion of soft tissues beneath the contact point


ART is effective for active people of every level. It can provide patients with a means to enhance their sports performance by identifying and releasing restrictions that reduce their performance in their chosen activity. This typically occurs after the practitioner conducts a biomechanical analysis of the patient's motion. 

  • Evaluates gait, motion, and posture.
  • Identifies the biomechanical dysfunctions that are restricting the performance.
  • Locates the soft tissue structures that are the primary cause of the biomechanical dysfunction as well as affected structures throughout the kinetic chain.
  • Treats the soft tissue dysfunctions with ART to restore full function to the affected structures.

ART is applied after trauma-based injuries have resolved. ART concentrates on removing restrictions that inhibit the full range of motion and restoring full function and performance to affected soft tissues. This process can result in significant increases in sports performance of power, strength, and flexibility.

More Chiropractic Techniques and Physiotherapies 

Dr. James Fraser

Doctor of Chiropractic