Active release therapy, more specifically referred to as the active release technique, is a patented system designed by Dr. P. Michael Leahy which focuses on the treatment of developed scar tissue in damaged muscles all across the human body. When Dr. Leahy first developed the technique about two decades ago, he realized that the damage in the complex soft tissues of the muscles might perhaps be able to be sensed as well as addressed directly through movement in the form of specialized techniques. With its proven ability to cure pain, its own acronym, ART, provides the active release therapy with some ironical link to being a true art form in chiropractic care.
When athletes overwork their muscles from playing sports or even through just everyday activities, many individuals don’t understand how scar tissue can develop on our muscles in the first place. The scar issue forms in order to help heal damaged muscles, however, it can ultimately create painful symptoms which may last long after these have healed. Scar tissue most commonly develops as a result of pulled muscles or muscle tears, or even from a lack of oxygen, called hypoxia.
As the scar tissue builds in the damaged or injured muscles, if the individual does not maintain a proper level of mobility in the affected area, it can progressively cause muscles to become stiff or tight and weak, eventually leading to health issues such as tendonitis or nerve problems. This explains why some people with pain or limited range of motion, often will need to visit a healthcare professional immediately. Fortunately, many doctors are certified to treat these type of problems using active release therapy.
Using the Active Release Technique to Relieve Pain
Together with providing tension to the targeted sore muscle and utilizing specific body motions, the painful symptoms associated with scar tissue improves through active release therapy. As of now, there are approximately 500 different active release techniques designed to alleviate the tightness or stiffness and weakness in all of the body’s soft tissues, from the muscles to the nerves. Many of these movements are particularly chosen for each individual based on the specific muscle issue and location.
Active release techniques can also be helpful for small traumatic injuries caused by accumulative trauma or repetitive strain. More specifically, ART functions to break up fibrous tissues called adhesions. These adhesions result from a tear onto a tendon, ligament or muscle. Adhesions commonly develop in different ways, including from trauma as a result of acute injury or from repetitive motion injury caused by overuse, most commonly from sports injuries. It may also be a result of poor posture which has been aggravated by continuous pressure in addition to tension produced in the soft tissues for extended amounts of time.
Such adhesions, when left untreated, can also limit blood flow as well as shorten muscles, causing the well-known symptoms. Worsened symptoms can also result in pain, discomfort or weakness and at times numbness, most notably when scar tissue applies pressure on the nerves. When adhesions occur, the patient will surely complain of distress much more due to the simple fact that they will not be able to engage in the physical activities they were used to performing in before.
How Does ART work?
The active release technique, or ART, works by implementing a couple of movements and motions on the affected muscle, tendon or fascia. In comparison to other soft tissue therapies, it’s said to achieve better end results. Primarily, ART aims to help improve the symptoms of the damaged or injured area by applying pressure and force on it. From there, the individual will be tasked to perform a technique which will help release the tension from the treatment. This can essentially improve motion for the treated region.
The combination of this tension out of the active release technique and that of the movement of muscles and its soft tissues will loosen and break up the adhesions. Because of this, there’ll be lesser pain felt on the injured region. This technique works well with active strengthening in addition to biomechanics training. The combination of these therapies will make patients feel improved body awareness, strength, flexibility and mobility even after a few ART sessions.
How Different is ART from Traditional Soft Tissue Treatments?
When compared with traditional manners of soft tissue therapy, ART boasts of a very comprehensive strategy. The active release technique is performed by certified healthcare practitioners who’ve underwent a very rigorous training procedure. Healthcare professionals must participate in sit-in classes and they must also have hands-on testing. Their certificate doesn’t stop after they pass the 90 percent mark on the hands on test though. They’ll also have to maintain their ART certification by getting annual recertification. This may work by honing the healthcare professional’s abilities and at the exact time, this will boil to the benefit of patients undergoing the therapy.
How Successful is ART as a Treatment?
Current research has demonstrated how effective the procedure is when it comes to treating hamstring pain and dysfunction in addition to hip pain, turf toe and lymph nodes. While the efficacy of ART has been demonstrated along these areas, several studies are still being made to check into its potential for treating disorders for other body components.
Using the Active Release Technique for Sciatica
Sciatica is an issue which affects a large number of people. It is essentially a pain syndrome, characterized by a collection of common symptoms which are caused when the sciatic nerve, the largest and most important nerve supplying the lower spine and the lower extremities, is compressed by the small muscles in the pelvis. The piriformis muscle is the one most implicated in the compression of the sciatic nerve, particularly because it moves through this muscle when emerging from the pelvis and entering the lower limbs. The active release technique, or ART, may be used in the treatment of sciatica brought on by piriformis syndrome.
Pathophysiology of Sciatica
When sciatica is caused by the compression of the sciatic nerve by the piriformis muscle, the latter generally goes into a spasm for an extended period of time, leading to the compression of this fundamental nerve. The spasm may result in a compromise in the blood supply to the muscle itself as well as the nerve, which will further complicate the issue. Nerve communications are important in order for the human body to maintain its outmost efficiency. Sciatica often can also be caused by disc injuries and herniations, as generally is a differential diagnosis to piriformis syndrome. Specific orthopedic tests can help, doctors of chiropractic, or chiropractors, evaluate the source of the patient’s sciatica prior to commencing any type treatment.
Consequences of Sciatic Nerve Pain
There are a number of effects that could arise as a result of sciatica. Reduction in overall body ranges of movement can be anticipated, accompanied by searing or sharp pain that can be excruciating. This can make it very difficult for an individual’s quality of life, especially when carrying out daily tasks like going to school and work, might become impossible due to the seriousness of the health issue. When the issue isn’t treated on time, it might cause permanent damage to the sciatic nerve.
Conventional Treatments for Sciatic Nerve Pain
There are a range of conventional treatments that may be utilized based on the intensity of the sciatic nerve pain, or sciatica. One of these is an injection of a drug/medication that can relax the muscle so that it stops compressing the nerve. Additionally, it has been proven that drugs and/or medications, such as steroids, may also have an impact on reducing the pain and impairment related to the symptoms. When the pharmacological methods don’t result in any progress, surgical ones can be attempted. The most usual of these is a surgery to release the nerve from the muscle by cutting away a portion of it. Although these have been listed as conventional treatments which may be used to treat sciatica, alternative treatment options and secondary opinions should be considered before considering surgical interventions. Only when no other treatment has demonstrated any improvements, should surgery be considered by a patient.
The Role of Active Release Techniques for Sciatica
The active release technique, or ART, is a form of therapy that focuses on the manipulation of soft tissues, including nerves, fascia and muscles, so as to achieve relief of painful symptoms, in this case for sciatica. For sciatic nerve pain, ART is utilized to reduce spasm and remove adhesions of the muscle that may be entrapping the sciatic nerve. Since the adhesions are removed through specific manual methods, the nerve can slide under the soft tissues, and sciatica symptoms can solve relatively quickly. There are a range of things that a patient can do in order to increase the efficacy of the active release technique. Early start to treatment assists in long-term resolution of sciatica symptoms.
Dr. Alex Jimenez’s Insight
The active release technique, also known as active release therapy or ART, is a soft tissue treatment based on a series of movement and motion techniques utilized to relieve pain and discomfort as well as promote the healing of muscles, joints and nerves, among other soft tissues. When performed by a certified healthcare professional, including a chiropractor, ART can help break down adhesions which may have developed following scar tissue formation after a damaged or injured muscle has healed. The active release technique has become one of the most common therapy for soft tissue treatment.
ART therapy is usually provided by skilled therapists like chiropractors, who have to keep their accreditation through continuing education on a yearly suface. This treatment is a specialized procedure that needs quite a bit of expertise and skill so as to work and supply rapid results. The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic as well as to spinal injuries and conditions. To discuss the subject matter, please feel free to ask Dr. Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900 .
Curated by Dr. Alex Jimenez
Additional Topics: Sciatica
Sciatica is medically referred to as a collection of symptoms, rather than a single injury and/or condition. Symptoms of sciatic nerve pain, or sciatica, can vary in frequency and intensity, however, it is most commonly described as a sudden, sharp (knife-like) or electrical pain that radiates from the low back down the buttocks, hips, thighs and legs into the foot. Other symptoms of sciatica may include, tingling or burning sensations, numbness and weakness along the length of the sciatic nerve. Sciatica most frequently affects individuals between the ages of 30 and 50 years. It may often develop as a result of the degeneration of the spine due to age, however, the compression and irritation of the sciatic nerve caused by a bulging or herniated disc, among other spinal health issues, may also cause sciatic nerve pain.