Medical Terminology

Active Release

The following information is condensed from
What is Active Release Techniques (ART)?
Active Release Techniques is a patented, state of the art soft tissue system/movement based massage technique that treats problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and nerves. Headaches, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, shin splints, shoulder pain, sciatica, plantar fasciitis, knee pains, and tennis elbow are just a few of the conditions that can be resolved with Active Release Techniques. These conditions all often a result of overused muscles.


How do overuse conditions occur?
Over-used muscles and other connective soft tissues change in three important ways:
  • acute conditions (strains and sprains)
  • accumulation of small tears (micro-traumas)
  • not getting enough oxygen (hypoxic)

Each of these factors can cause your body to produce tough, fibrous scar tissue in the affected area.  This scar tissue binds up tissues that need to move freely.  As scar tissue builds up, muscles become shorter and weaker, tension on tendons causes tendonitis, and nerves can become entrapped.  This can cause reduced range of motion, loss of strength, and/or pain.  If a nerve is trapped you may also feel tingling, numbness, and/or weakness.

What is an Active Release Techniques treatment like?
Every Active Release Techniques session is a combination of examination and treatment. The Active Release Techniques provider uses his hands to evaluate the texture, tightness and movement of muscles, fascia, tendons, ligaments, and nerves.  Abnormal tissues are treated by combining carefully directed tension with specific patient movements.

These treatment protocols - more than 500 specific moves - are unique to Active Release Techniques.  They allow providers to identify and correct the specific problems that are affecting each individual patient.  Active Release Techniques is not a one-fits-all approach.


What is the history of Active Release Techniques?
Active Release Techniqueshas been developed, refined, and patented by P. Michael Leahy, DC, CCSP.  Dr. Leahy noticed that his patients' symptoms were related to changes in their soft tissue that could be felt by hand.  By observing how muscles, fascia, tendons, ligaments and nerves responded to different types of work, Dr. Leahy was able to resolve over 90% of his patients' problems.  He now teaches and certifies health care providers worldwide to use Active Release Techniques.