Active Release Technique is movement based on the part of the patient, which means that the intention is to get the patient to actively move the injured area through a hindered motion. Initially, patients are often unable to accomplish this, which is, of course, why they’re in need of physical therapy in the first place. As such, when the patient is unable to make the directed motion efficiently enough for the practitioner to help, it’s frequently necessary to use some sort of passive motion to subsequently build up to an active motion for more effective treatment.
Any A.R.T. treatment is, in fact, very much like an amalgamation of an examination and treatment. The practitioner begins with manual contact in order to target and examine soft tissue structures and thereby determine which tissue structures should be dealt with in a given session. These soft tissue structures are muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and fascia, and A.R.T. can be used to target any one of these individually or several collectively in the course of treatment. In the case of the latter, it is usually meant to deal with problems people develop with a combination of those structures.
Development of Scar Tissue
Once the scar tissue and the tear develop, there are indicators within a muscle, and this often becomes a bigger problem that affects other structures. Within a muscle, all the fibers travel in the same direction quite parallel to one another. Your bicep, for example, should be able to, when healthy, contract and stretch with proper function, having no tears or scar tissue; however, if you were to try to curl a massive free weight to impress your girlfriend and, lo and be hold, it turned out the size of said free weight was not just for show. It is very likely that you’ve created a tear in the muscle fibers, and it’s natural for the muscle to attempt to fill in the void of that tear.
The muscle’s effort to fill in the absence left by the torn muscle fibers is going to engage inflammation in the muscle. The inflammatory process leads, however, to the manifestation of scar tissue because these fibers grow wildly as opposed to in single-file, organized lines still parallel to the others in the muscle. This yields an adhesion that does legitimately fill in the void left by the tear, but the fibers of that adhesion are wildly splayed, which is what people typically refer to as a “knot” in one’s muscle. As such, that point is going to remain a part of the muscle that does not operate effectively, and the purpose of A.R.T. is to mitigate the negative effects of this and correct the flawed growth structure.
Why A.R.T. Is So Effective
The example previously used would also be an example of the kind of problem that snowballs over time and sends a patient to a physician possibly to be ambushed by the concept of surgery if it were elsewhere like in the lumbar region. In the event that the muscle was causing more and more painful back pain, which is harder to ignore than bicep soreness, circumstances can reach extremes at which a patient opts for surgery and physicians do not direct him or her to a chiropractor. A.R.T. removes the so-called knot at least as effectively as any surgical operation could, yet it lacks surgery’s statistical affinity for more scar tissue.
Muscles and other tissue structures lie overtop of each other and next one another as well as traveling in different directions. A muscle that runs at a different direction but comes into contact with the knotted muscle is likely to eventually be affected by the spread of the adhesion. As such, this leads to impinging on multiple muscles. There is also the possibility of a nerve traveling close to the growing adhesion. It can be very uncomfortable, even agonizing, to feel the adhesion of a muscle growing and pressing more and more on a nerve. A.R.T. is one of very few techniques that directly deals with each of these problems in a way that most other treatments do not. It targets the source of the pain as opposed to treating the pain.