to ART Active Release Techniques is a recently
developed method for addressing soft tissue adhesions and
dysfunctions. ART was developed by Dr. Michael Leahy, a doctor of
chiropractic based in Colorado Springs, Colorado. His Aeronautical
Engineering degree and experiences from the U.S. Air Force Academy
were combined with his knowledge of human systems to find a better
way to treat soft tissue injuries. The result was Active Release
What is ART?
ART provides a way to diagnose and treat the underlying causes of
cumulative trauma disorders that result in symptoms of numbness,
tingling, burning and aching. ART is a type of manual hands-on
therapy that corrects muscular and soft tissue problems caused by
adhesion formation as a result of injury, overuse or cumulative
What is Cumulative Trauma?
Cumulative Trauma disorder (CTD), Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI),
Repetitive Motion injury, are all used to describe problems that
arise from the cumulative injury cycle (CIC). Some common names of
these conditions are Carpal tunnel syndrome, rotator cuff syndrome,
chronic low back pain, whiplash injury and poor posture. CTD's
create physical signs and symptoms that are predictable and
correctable using ART.
What is the
cumulative injury cycle (CIC)? If you set a pendulum
into motion, you don't have to keep pushing it each time, it keeps
going! Our bodies respond in much the same way. That's why it hurts
even after the stress is removed. The cycle can be started in three
ways, Acute Injury, Repetitive Injury and constant Pressure or
Tension. Left uncorrected, they lead to inflammation,
adhesions/fibrosis, weak and tense tissues and decreased circulation
all in a specific progression called the Cumulative Injury Cycle.
How do I know if I have a problem?
Our bodies are very adaptable, they have to be to survive. Our
bodies protect us from damage with pain signals and repair damaged
areas with scar tissue. Very often, we think we are "better"
after the pain goes away, however, what has happened is that the
problem area "healed" with scar tissue. You probably will
not be aware of the problem until a later date, maybe years from the
original injury. You can recognize adhesion problems by loss of
function. Loss of function could be a decrease in range of motion,
weakness, stiffness, soreness and many other symptoms that many like
to call "getting older". More accurately it 's "getting
stuck to yourself"
are Adhesions? Our bodies contain special protein
structures called connective tissue, also know as Fascia. This
substance connects each part to other parts and the whole, very much
like a flexible skeleton. When this tissue is healthy it is smooth
and slippery, allowing the muscles, nerves, blood vessels or organs
to move freely and function properly. Imagine a piece of scotch
tape, the smooth side is healthy fascia, the sticky side is scar
tissue or unhealthy fascia. Rub the tape along your skin, both
sides,to "feel" what an adhesion is like. The drag that
you feel, the "pulling" sensation, is what an adhesion is
like. These adhesions attach to muscles decreasing their ability to
work properly. You really know when you have an adhesion on a nerve,
you get many abnormal sensations like numbness, tingling or pain.
What's the difference between ART
and Massage? They may look and sound similar, but the
procedures are actually very different and the results they produce
are very different. There are many types of massage, generally
massage promotes relaxation and circulation. Neuromuscular Massage
gets more specific but it does not fix the soft tissue and make it
work properly. ART is protocol specific for the correction of
adhesions & scar tissues. Anyone who has had ART can tell you,
It's NOT massage! Does ART help Trigger Points? Yes, trigger points
are tender spots in muscles that cause you to feel referred pain.
For example, a trigger point in your infraspinatus muscle, the lower
half of your shoulder blade, will tell your brain that there is a
problem in the front of the shoulder. "Where it hurts it ain't!"
By correcting the muscle function the trigger point goes away and so
does the pain referral. Trigger points are a great indicator that
ART is the treatment you need!
haven't I heard of ART before? Proficiency at ART
takes a long time to develop. Training is hands on. The right touch
is the most difficult aspect learn. It takes a strong commitment of
time effort and resources to become a provider. A few desire to do
what it takes. Consequently, there is a small but growing number of
providers that have been personally trained by Dr. Leahy. ART is
rapidly becoming THE choice for TOP athletes.
How do I know if someone Provides Active
Release? "Active Release? Oh yeah, I do that, it's
like myofascial release right?." Oh really? Ask to see the
provider certificate signed by Dr. Leahy. Many practitioners may say
they do, when actually they do not. There are many types of
treatments for soft tissue that other people call active release.
Call the ART home office for verification of their credentials at
Who can benefit
from ART? ART has become regarded as a kind of "miracle
treatment" for pro-level athletes. Big names like Donovan
Bailey, Olympic gold medalist and Gary Roberts a hockey player, have
benefited from ART. Roberts was able to return to hockey after two
neck surgeries failed to correct his dizzy spells, he credits Dr.
Leahy and ART with fixing the problem. Clearly, ART can help
everyone to one degree or another.
I really need Surgery? Sometimes surgery is a clear
cut case, a torn meniscus or ligament. Yet other times it is less
clear cut. Chronic pain and joint trouble may actually be in the
muscles and connective tissue and not in the joint. If you surgeon
wants to "Scope it " and see what happens, you should
consider ART. It is very common to restore proper function to a
particular muscle or group of muscle and have the chronic symptoms
disappear. You need to know what is wrong to properly correct it,
consider ART before surgery. Once you cut, that's it, and you then
have new scar tissue to deal with PLUS the original adhesions in the
muscles that were there before. It makes sense doesn't it?
What is the treatment like?
ART is not a magic bullet or cure-all. Active Release Techniques is
noninvasive, very safe, and has virtually no side effects and comes
with a record of very good results. Treatments can be uncomfortable
during the movement phases as the scar tissue or adhesions "Break
up". This is temporary and subsides almost immediately after
the treatment. It is common to feel a duplication of your symptoms
during the treatment, a good indication that the problem has been
identified. Treatments are about 8-10 minutes per area treated and
vary in number from 2 to 10 visits typically. Chiropractic
manipulation is frequently done in addition to ART to increase the
effectiveness. Patients report that "It hurts good".
Will my condition or problem return
after treatment? Usually, the changes are permanent,
but ultimately the answer depends on the patient compliance with
recommendations for after care. "If you keep doing what your
doing, you keep getting what your getting". This is true for
those with repetitive strain injuries (RSI) or cumulative trauma
injuries. To not alter the patterns that got you injured in the
first place will only cause the problem to recur. An important part
of ART treatments is the provider's recommendations to activity
modification, stretching and exercises. Each individual is expected
to commit to the suggestions for the best results.
What conditions can ART help?
The list is extensive. To name just a few conditions: Rotator Cuff
(4 muscles really that move and stabilize the shoulder), Tendinitis
(runners shin splints, golfer's elbow, tennis elbow), Bursitis (the
body's anti-friction device for tendons), muscle pulls or strains,
frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis, knee pain (Problems with
quadriceps and ilio tibial band), muscle weakness, strength
imbalances, poor flexibility, poor posture, chronic muscle or joint
pain and stiffness, on and on...... If you think you have "tried
it all and nothing has worked", you probably have not had ART.
How does ART improve
performance? Performance of any task; golfing, typing
and running faster can be improved significantly with ART. Restoring
proper muscle function and movement enables the body to perform at
its most efficient level. Adhesions create drag and tension which
requires more energy and effort to accomplish a desired movement.
Reaction times are also able to be improved as muscle function is
improved. ART allows the body to do what you ask of it when you need
How do I make an
appointment? Just call the office at 905-682-0999
and ask about our ART services. Our doctor is fully credentialed in
this powerful performance enhancing technique. You can find our
office hours by clicking on the Appointments
button at the bottom right of this page. We look forward to your