Active Release Technique

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Active release technique (ART) is a soft tissue system/movement-based technique developed and patented by P. Michael Leahy. It claims to treat problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and nerves. There is little evidence to support its efficacy. The technique is advocated largely by chiropractors[citation needed].

Medical uses[edit]

ART claims to treat conditions related to the build-up of adhesions and scar tissue in muscles. According to ART practitioners, these adhesions cause several problems: muscles become shorter and weaker, the motion of muscles and joints are altered, and nerves can become compressed. As a result, the affected tissues suffer from pain, decreased blood supply, and poor mobility. ART claims to fix these issues by releasing trapped nerves and restoring the smooth movement of muscle fibers.[1]

Adverse effects[edit]

ART is not appropriate in cases of blunt trauma or active inflammation, but otherwise there are no serious contraindications for its use, though treatments should be limited to every other day.[2][page needed]

Treatment description[edit]

In an ART treatment, the provider uses his or her hands to evaluate the texture, tightness and mobility of the soft tissue. Using hand pressure, the practitioner works to remove or break up the fibrous adhesions, with the stretching motions generally in the direction of venous and lymphatic flow,[2][page needed] although the opposite direction may occasionally be used.[3][unreliable source?]

In the first three levels of ART treatment, as with other soft-tissue treatment forms, movement of the patient's tissue is done by the practitioner. In level four, however, ART requires the patient to actively move the affected tissue in prescribed ways while the practitioner applies a specific tension. Involvement of the patient is seen as an advantage of ART, as people who are active participants in their own healthcare are believed to experience better outcomes.[2][page needed]

Training and certification[edit]

Initial certification requires the practitioners to attend workshops and pass a practical exam. In addition, they must maintain their certification by attending at least one ART seminar each year and passing re-credential exams.[citation needed] Training is available to chiropractors, physical therapists, massage therapists, certified athletic trainers, medical doctors, and others who are licensed to work on soft-tissue conditions and injuries. Students in those fields are also able to study ART.[4][not in citation given][unreliable source?]

The ART courses are approved for CEU's in the United States through the New York Chiropractic College. Active Release Techniques is also an approved provider through the Board of Certification for Athletic Trainers and the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork for Massage Therapists.[4]


  1. ^ "Active Release Technique". The Treatment Table. Retrieved 30 July 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c Cooperstein, Robert; Gleberzon, Brian J. (2004). Technique Systems in Chiropractic. Churchill Livingstone. 
  3. ^ Buchberger, Dale J. "Active Release Techniques and The Graston Technique: Do we have to choose?". 
  4. ^ a b "Frequently Asked Questions". 

See also[edit]