It’s a shame not more people in the Netherlands know about Active Release Techniques (ART).
Its specificity and effectiveness makes it one of the best ways to diagnose and treat problems in the soft tissue (muscles, tendons, nerves, fascia and joint capsules).
ART has been around for 30-ish years and has grown to 25.000 providers worldwide. All major sports leagues in the US have ART providers on their medical staff. Also bestselling author Tim Ferriss recommends ART as one of the best ways to treat injuries.
ART is not just for athletes; hundreds of companies are benefiting from on-site ART treatments. With ART providers on-site, they were able to reduce costs associated with musculoskeletal complaints with 50-80%.
In the Benelux there are only 5 certified ART providers.
In order to become and stay a certified provider, therapists have to take a course every year. This ensures a high level of skill and keeps the provider up to date with the latest research and techniques.
Will you benefit from ART?
Sit behind a desk all day? You will benefit!
Do any kind of repetitive work? You will benefit!
Feel stiff and tight? You will benefit!
Do you train? You will benefit!
Have (recurring) injuries? You will benefit!
Recovering from surgery? You will benefit!
It works great to solve injuries, but ART works ideally as a preventative measure as well. Before something starts to hurt, you can already find changes in soft tissue or mobility that you can fix before it turns into pain or injury. Why cure when you can prevent?
By optimizing muscle and joint function, you boost your recovery and enhance your overall performance.
Your body becomes stronger and better able to handle everything life throws at you!
The better your body functions, the better you will perform in your job, your sports, and your life in general.
What is ART?
Let’s get a bit technical… ART is a hands-on soft tissue mobilization technique that targets scar tissue and adhesions in muscles, tendons, nerves, fascia and joint capsules. With ART they’ve found a way to manually find scar tissue and adhesions in soft tissue. By using patient motion and manual tension it is possible to fix those adhesions and restore proper function. This is what sets ART apart from other techniques like trigger-point or traditional massage.
Another thing that makes ART unique and stand out compared to other treatment systems is the ability to treat nerves. Through the buildup of adhesions in the cumulative injury cycle (see below), nerves can get entrapped and stuck to the surrounding tissues. This can lead to nerve entrapments in the neck, arms and hands, as well as in the legs and feet. Nerve entrapments are very common, yet often misdiagnosed.
I treat nerves on most of my clients! In most cases there is a nerve entrapment directly or indirectly related to the problem.
I love using ART because it allows me to work fast and specific. There is a lot I can do in a short time compared to other treatment modalities and techniques I used in the past.
It is not uncommon to have significant relief after the first session.
Ouch, my [insert joint] hurts!
Where most people think their problem is a joint problem, often the underlying cause is actually a soft tissue problem. Tight and weak muscles ‘tuck’ at their attachments points near joints, changing the pressure and range of motion in a joint.
Targeting those restrictions and adhesions will release the excess tension of the joints, restore range of motion and solve the underlying cause of your problem.
Cumulative injury cycle
Let´s get a bit deeper into the underlying mechanics of injury.
The cumulative injury cycle gives a nice overview in the different ways injuries can start.
Injuries can start through the inflammatory cycle and/or the chronic cycle. These can occur separately or simultaneously.
The inflammatory cycle starts with an acute injury like a crush or tear. There is a physical disruption of the tissue. After tissue gets damaged, the first thing your body reacts with is inflammation. During that inflammation phase, the adhesion process is started (see image).
The chronic cycle can start in different ways, either by repetitive motion or a constant pressure or tension and builds up over time. The idea behind this is that repetitive motions tighten muscles. When muscles are tight, they tend to weaken and when a muscle is weak, it tends to be tight. Adjacent tissue like fascia, nerves or ligaments can also be drawn tight, making the entire area tight. This is the reason that injuries generally start small and in a specific spot, but become bigger over time.
As a result of weak and tight tissues, the internal forces on the tissues rise, causing friction, pressure and/or tension. If one or more of these internal forces is high enough, an acute injury and inflammation can happen, even without external forces.
When internal forces increase, circulation in the affected area decreases. Think of it as when you squeeze a sponge. This decreases the ability to suck up water from its surroundings.
Constant external pressure or tension can also decrease circulation.
Decreased circulation leads to something called hypoxia, a lack of oxygen in the tissue. Hypoxia causes a chemical reaction that starts the formation of adhesions in and between tissues, making them weaker and tighter, which leads to more friction, pressure and/or tension, etc. Each factor causes the next one in the vicious circle to happen. Small injuries can lead to bigger ones if not treated properly.
ART breaks through the cycle by targeting the adhesions and fibrosis step. The tissue becomes looser and stronger while friction, pressure and/or tension decreases and circulation increases. By doing so, the self-healing properties of the human body are stimulated.
Get your joints on!
Having a strong and healthy body allows you to focus on the things that are important to you!
A strong and healthy body starts with healthy joints and muscles, and ART is the best way to keep them that way!
Whether you are a keyboard warrior, a professional athlete, or just a regular person who wants to take care of their body in the most efficient way… It is time to try ART.