Active Release Techniques

Active release technique (ART) is a treatment using massage that focuses on soft tissue systems and movement of muscles, ligaments, tendons, fascia, and nerves.  It can be used to treat many conditions, whether acute or chronic, such as headaches, neck or back pain, injuries or overuse conditions.  The goal is quick and permanent recovery.

ART sessions involve a careful examination and treatment session.  The provider uses their hands to examine the condition of the various tissues, evaluating the tightness, texture and movement.  This leads the provider to apply specific force/tension combined with patient movements.  There are over 500 specific moves in the ART protocols thus allowing customized treatment plans.

Myofascial release is a similar manual therapy that focuses on pain arising from fascia, which is the fibrous membrane that wraps and supports muscles and connects muscle groups.  Myosfascial pain seems to originate from “knots” in the tissue, also called trigger points.  Sometimes pain is coming from the trigger point itself while other times the pain originates distant from the involved trigger points.  The idea in treatment is using manual pressure and stretching to loosen and release the bound up tissue.

A Treatment Session

Dr Rook has extensive training and experience in these treatment techniques and describes a treatment session as such:

“I look for imbalance and restriction in muscle and fascia and I correct those to reduce pain and improve function by using a mix of osteopathic techniques (treatment with my hands).  I may move your body while applying force/pressure to an area; I may have you move a part of the body while I’ll apply force or pressure at some other area; and/or I may have your move against resistance, while I’ll apply force or pressure.  The treatment can be uncomfortable as the muscles and fascia are being manipulated.

Taking into account the patient’s pain complaint, is it acute or chronic and related to an injury, I look at movement, symmetry and function.  Then I feel what the muscles and fascia are doing both where the patient localizes the pain and in other parts of the body.  Sometimes the problem exists in the region where the patient hurts and that is where I treat.  In many cases, the problem is somewhere away from where the patient hurts and that is what I find and treat.  This may be the reason for recurrent or ongoing pain in that patient despite past other treatments localized to their pain area.

In most cases, 1-2 treatment sessions will significantly improve patient’s symptoms.  The response to treatment however has to do with several variables.  For example, healthier, more fit people will respond faster.  Patients who can tolerate more aggressive treatment in the muscle and fascia will have faster outcomes.  Athletes with recurrent injuries or strain from over-training will see someone like me more often.  Patients with more chronic forms of musculoskeletal or myofascial pain will usually need treatment a bit more frequently initially and then it can be spread out at their discretion to keep their new pain balance in check.

All in all, the patients who do the best with me – whether I’m treating with my hands, regenerative injections, hormone optimization, nutrition optimization or any combo of the above, are the ones who also follow my recommendations for activity restriction/return to training and any conditioning exercises I provide them.”


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