Active Release Technique in Knoxville (ART)

Our Knoxville Sports Chiropractic Physicians, Dr. Bert, and Dr. Matt, use a non-invasive technique called active release technique (ART) developed by Colorado chiropractor Michael Leahy. Dr. Bert is very experienced in the technique, and has been ART-certified for over 10 years, and has helped many runners, athletes, and other patients by using this technique. ART was initially used mostly by professional athletes, but it has now become much more mainstream for overuse injuries. It is a very popular technique still with athletes, particularly those in endurance sports like long-distance running or triathlons. Repetitive strain injuries add up to a whopping $100 billion annually in time away from work, reduced productivity, and workers’ compensation claims.

What is Active Release Technique (ART)?

ART, or Active Release Technique, is a hands-on soft-tissue technique, which has been proven effective for accurately defining soft tissue conditions and effectively treating repetitive strain conditions and cumulative trauma disorders, in a relatively short time-frame, without requiring several months of ongoing therapy.

ART is a soft-tissue manipulation technique aimed at manually breaking up the scar tissue (adhesions) that form after an injury; the adhesions entrap muscles, tendons, ligaments, and nerves, causing numbness, weakness, reduced nerve conduction, reduced oxygen to the tissues (hypoxia), pain and lost range of motion. In overuse injuries, tissues accumulate small tears (microtrauma) that over time can lead to acute pulls and tears with scar tissue formation. The technique is similar to massage therapy but it is more productive in releasing myofascial adhesions.

Depending on the injury, Dr. Bert and Dr. Matt will use ART in the specific area of complaint. You will be able to feel the adhesion release, and the results are typically instantaneous. Follow-up treatments are usually required to maintain improvements. Leahy himself claims a 96 percent success rate (defined as being able to return to work) in 8,000 cases he has personally treated.

Chiropractors have effectively used ART for a whole host of conditions: carpal tunnel syndrome, Achilles tendonitis, supraspinatus tendon injuries, rotator cuff injuries, tennis elbow, and golfer’s elbow. All of these injuries are in areas where soft tissue is located near joints, so scarring can reduce the range of motion.

In a recently published study, ART was found to be effective for reducing neck pain and increasing neck range of motion in individuals with chronic neck pain. Most chronic neck pain sufferers have pain and limited movement because of soft tissue impairment in the neck.

Dr. Bert and Dr. Matt see patients of all backgrounds and walks of life. If you know or suspect you have adhesions from an overuse injury, call us today at (865) 337-5574 for a consultation to see if ART can provide you with relief.


Active Release Technique FAQ

What Does “ART” Stand For?

ART stands for Active Release Technique. It is a soft tissue mobilization technique whose goal is to free up the various muscle, tendon, ligament, and nerve from varying forms of adhesions caused by damage to the tissue. The “active” piece comes from the fact that the tissue being worked on is moving throughout the entire treatment. This allows you to more effectively treat the area and increase mobility as the muscle is moved through its entire range of motion. 

How Does Active Release Technique The help?chiropractor working on a female patients knee

ART is one of the most powerful ways to break up fibrotic tissue as it lies in between layers of muscle or other tissues due to the immense specificity of movement. It takes into account each muscle’s unique action and specifically lengthens it in relation to those near it. As the muscle is lengthening, the adjacent muscle or tissue with the suspected adhesion is pinned down with the practitioner’s fingers. What you get is physical prying apart of muscle and tissue that is stuck together by fibrous adhesion. 

What Conditions Can Be Treated With The ART Chiropractic?

The list of soft tissue conditions where ART can be utilized is quite extensive but what it is probably best at treating are overuse injuries and nerve entrapments.

 Overuse injuries refer to any injury brought about by a repeated trauma that is mild in force but high in a number of repetitions. Think about tennis elbow in a car mechanic using wrenches all day, or IT band syndrome in a competitive endurance runner.

Does The Active Release Technique Hurt?

Sometimes. It depends on the severity of the condition. If the condition is acute, or has recently happened and become painful, the inflammatory response is still occurring and thus anything that you do to this tissue will hurt. The level of force used is dictated by two things: the amount of scar tissue that is present in the area and the tolerance of the patient. The treatment should never exceed 7/10 on the pain scale. If the condition is more chronic in nature, the phrase “It hurts so good!” is commonly used, as we are finally starting to get movement in areas that have been stuck down for a long time. 

Who Can Perform The Active Release TechniquePhoto of Dr. Matt and Dr. Bert

Only those that have gone through the training can legally perform ART. To become full body certified in ART at the lowest level, you must go through over 75 hours of hands-on training and take written and practical tests along the way. The certification is available to chiropractors, physical therapists, massage therapists, athletic trainers and others that have at least a bachelor’s degree in a health-related field.

 How Does A Chiropractor Use This Technique?

ART is a chiropractors right-hand man, a muscle will become tight and irritated in response to a damaged or fixated joint. Chiropractic is better than anything else at freeing up these joints and restoring biomechanical function to them. However, the inverse is also true. Damage to a muscle, tendon, or soft tissue can also cause a joint to become dysfunctional. When this occurs, you need to be able to address both the joint and the soft tissue around it. This is where ART comes in. Together you get the complete package for treating dysfunction.

Does Insurance Cover Chiropractic Active Release Technique?

As with all insurance questions, the answer isn’t a simple yes or no. Many insurance companies will cover ART performed by a chiropractor. A few exceptions to this are Blue Cross Blue Shield and United Health Care who do not reimburse a chiropractor to perform therapies outside of the chiropractic adjustment. However, most insurance companies will cover ART when performed by a Physical Therapist.


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