Whether you’ve got a small injury (or a persistent twinge) it can be tempting to simply ignore it, hoping it’ll go away on its own. If you do seek treatment, the progress can be slow or you may feel as if it never recovers entirely.
This may be fair enough and in some circumstances is realistic. As we age, the body eventually succumbs to wear and tear.
A relatively new therapy, Active Release Techniques (or ART therapy) however looks to use hands-on soft tissue treatment to help recover injuries and reduce pain.
The technique only became available in Europe in 2009, but was developed back in the 80s by Mike Leahy, a chiropractor from Colorado. The therapy is now used by medical staff at high-profile football clubs, professional cycling and athletic teams.
ART expert Thomas Feeny explains how it works:
“To treat a muscle with ART, the muscle is shortened and a manual tension is applied to the muscle by a therapist’s fingers.”
“The muscle is then actively lengthened by the person being treated, while the tension on the muscle is held in place. The treatment hurts a bit, although most patients describe it as a ‘good hurt’. It feels like a stretch that you need, but can’t do yourself. When a muscle is tight the technique works by increasing the nervous system’s tolerance to stretch the muscle.”
He goes on to explain that pain reduction is a complex area, but treating the restricting ligaments should always form part of a multidimensional rehabilitation programme.
So, what problems can ART help?
Chronic muscle tightness – Helping to loosen muscle tightness quickly, a session of ART feels the same as stretching every day for two months.
Spinal problems – Providing quick relief to stiff backs, ART can be useful for pain in this area.
Extremity tightness – Tight ankle or hip muscles can be helped with ART.
Overtrained muscles/tendons – Ideal for fitness enthusiasts, ART can support the recovery of rotator cuff injuries and hamstring pulls.
Repetitive strain injuries (RSI) – Shin splints, tennis elbow and other RSI problems can benefit from ART.