What is Active Release Therapy?
Active Release Therapy (ART), also called Active Release Technique, is a non-invasive manual therapy technique that works to correct soft tissue restrictions that cause pain and mobility issues. The goal is to break down scar tissue and adhesions in order to optimize function in the body.
The technique can be applied to both acute and chronic conditions involving the muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves and fascia.
During treatment, a trained physiotherapist will position your tissue so it’s “active.” For example, to treat an injured muscle with ART, the therapist puts you in a position so that the muscle is shortened and then applies hands-on tension. Next, they’ll instruct you to lengthen while they hold the tension in place. They may apply this combination of tension and motion to several different areas before you feel the full release.
It’s kind of like massage but with motion and stretching, except the physiotherapist will use small, targeted contact points rather than broad strokes. The technique can feel quite intense as it increases your nervous system’s tolerance for stretching the muscle. Many describe it as a “good pain.”