In a previous blog post, “How Can I Recover Faster?“, we mentioned using ART (Active Release Techniques) for more chronic and painful soft-tissue problems. In this post, we’ll hear from Dori, an Empower client who decided to give it a try after years of chronic back pain, and Jason, an ART practitioner, to learn more about the technique and how it can help you.
Interview with Dori
1) How did you hear about ART?
An Empower article about DOMS.
2) Why did you decide that ART therapy was for you? (This can entail things like what was hurting, why you thought ART could help with that pain, how long you’ve had the pain, other things you’ve tried, etc)
I had a back injury, the kind where you bend over wrong and everything goes “snap”, and it just wasnt getting better… I had done the same thing to my back years ago and it took a long time to get better so I thought it wouldnt hurt to try a different method.
3) What is a typical session like?
For me the sessions started with an assessment of my pain level and range of motion. Apparently my flexibility was pretty minimal and a lot of my muscles are locked up and not free flowing to allow for flexibility. When I started, I could only get my fingers to about 3-4 inches above the ground when I bent over… ART itself was actually quite painful for me. It involves pressing and holding certain muscles when you move others to help release scar tissue in the affected areas. The first few sessions left me sore and feeling bruised (and sometimes ACTUALLY bruised), but the pain lessened each time and I could tell I was getting more flexible.
4) Were you pleased with the results?
Very. After 2 weeks of treatment, the pain was markedly improved and I could touch my toes for the first time in God knows how long! Luckily, my insurance paid for it, or cost could be prohibitive for some.
Interview with Jason
1) How did you hear about ART?
My first exposure with Active Release Technique was with my chiropractor back in New Jersey. It’s an unfortunate thing I did not know about it sooner, maybe it could have kept me from having a few surgeries or allowed for a better recovery from my injuries.
2) Why did you decide to become an ART therapist?
I chose to be an ART practitioner because of the results and the number of things that can be effectively treated with it. Growing up I experienced a lot of injuries and I personally had it help with my conditions immensely. When going through chiropractic school I felt that a few components were missing when it came to inclusive patient care. There is a whole lot more to injuries and pain than just dealing with bones and joints. Myofascial (muscle and connective tissue) pain accounts for a large percentage of conditions that people have.
3) What separates ART from other practices such as chiropractic or massage therapy?
Traditional chiropractic care just offers osseus adjustments with a few passive modalities. There is no component that address soft tissue injuries. Several chiropractors who are now breaking away from the traditional model are taking extra coursework to become certified ART providers. When comparing ART to massage therapy there are several similarities depending on which type of massage we are looking at. I think the main difference lies in the objective of the treatment and the fact that the patient is moving during treatment. In my experience the majority of massage techniques are geared towards augmenting the blood flow to the muscles or vice versa. Active Release Technique really shines when treating overuse injuries, focal adhesions within a muscle or between two muscles and alleviating peripheral nerve entrapments. I have found that massage is a great complimentary treatment to ART. I have several patients that receive both concurrently with great results and that is because ART creates an inflammation response and the massage helps with the recovery process. Another difference is that ART providers will often accept health insurance.
4) What is the process like when you get a prospective client?
…For the majority of people there will be a specific reason for seeking care. These individuals will come into the office where a thorough history of the injury will be taken, an exam will be performed with functional movement screens, and usually treatment will be done the same day. Many patients will find that treatment will not just be where the pain is but along the entire kinetic chain that was determined to be dysfunctional during the functional movement screen. Often times the area of pain is the area of overuse because another muscle or joint in the body isn’t doing their job. By locating and treating the true cause of the dysfunction and pain, recurrence rates are kept low… Our goal is get patient well in the shortest amount of time while providing lasting results and keeping them active. The asymptomatic patients that come in are here for performance care and we discuss what they want to improve or work on. These individuals are normally endurance athletes that understand the wear and tear they do to their bodies with the demanding training schedules or athletes that want to get faster, have better range of motion or improve on a part of their game.
5) What kind of problems can you help patients with? What is a (guesstimated) success rate?
By taking a multi faceted approach in our office incorporating chiropractic care with ART and active rehab we can really effectively treat a great number of conditions. If a problem involves the joints, muscles, connective tissue or nervous system we can usually help. I like to think of myself as a mechanic for the body. Some conditions that we commonly see are obviously low back and neck pain but I treat more complaints in the extremities than I do of the spine. People often come in for shoulder pain, numbness in the arms or legs, hip pain, plantar fascitis, knee pain, ankle pain, headaches and elbow pain. I even have patients that come in and say they can’t over head squat and they want me to help them be able to achieve that. Talking about success rates is difficult because each condition is different and everyone heals at a different rate. I will say that we can normally improve the patients condition to some degree if we can’t get them back to 100% and seeing someone for more than 8-12 visits is rare. If I am not making progress or don’t think I can help you I will at least be able to refer you to someone who can.
I would like to thank Dori and Jason for taking the time to answer some interview questions for us! If you’d like to learn more about ART, check out these resources: