A lot of people have heard of ART, or Active Release Technique, but most don't know what it is or how it can be helpful. ART is just one of the many methods of treatment we use in our office to help our patients get better as fast as possible. It is a specialized form of massage commonly used in sports medicine, and its goal is to reduce muscle tension while re-aligning muscle fibers and breaking up scar tissue. Because of its multiple effects, ART is a very powerful therapy. It can easily be over-done or done incorrectly, resulting in significant and long-lasting muscle soreness after treatment. For this reason, it is important to only ever receive ART from a licensed ART practitioner.
A common use for ART is for rotator cuff muscles. In this case, the patient is usually seated with the doctor standing behind them. The patient will shorten the muscle being treated and the doctor will use their hand to "pin down" the muscle in the appropriate location. The patient then moves their arm through a prescribed range of motion while the doctor maintains pressure, causing the muscle to move under the doctor's hand. This motion is what separates ART from other forms of massage. By having the patient actively use their arm, the neurologic input to the area of treatment is significantly increased. In addition, by "pulling" along the muscle fibers, the fibers themselves can be re-aligned and any scar tissue in the area is broken up.
As you might imagine, this is an extremely effective therapy!