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Active Release Technique - the “ART” of Treating Soft Tissue Problems

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My son, a sophomore in high school, made the junior varsity cross country team this fall and began the season well. However, three weeks into his training efforts, he began to notice heel and foot pain that sidelined him for a bit. He rested some and then attempted to run again, only to be hit with the pain once again. After a few at-home remedies, his coach suggested I take my son to see a local chiropractor who specializes in sports injuries. This particular chiropractor uses an interesting therapy called ART, or Active Release Technique. Skeptical at first, mainly because I did not want to have to take my son in for appointments every week, I began to see how this treatment is beneficial, so I did a bit of research into it.

ART is a soft tissue management system developed in 1991 by P. Michael Leahy, DC, CCSP. A chiropractor in Colorado Springs, he took his aeronautical engineering and anatomy background to create a treatment method for problems in soft tissues areas which otherwise would not respond to traditional therapies.

When the doctor first suggested this therapy, I was unsure at first, with my thoughts running towards, “Okay, so how many times do I have to bring my son in here and how much is this going to cost me?”

However, since my son was in such obvious pain and discomfort, and truly wanted to return to his love of running, I have now observed four sessions of this technique, and I am surprised to see positive results in return!

Through the use of ART, the chiropractor uses a massage-like technique that treats problems with tendons, ligaments, muscles, fascia, and nerves. This technique can be used to treat headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome, backaches, shin splints, sciatica, plantar fascitis, knee problems, and many other conditions that can affect one’s bones, joints, ligaments, and tendons. What these conditions typically have in common are that they usually arise from overuse. As a cross country runner who logs many miles each week, overuse is an understatement for my son.

When a muscle is overused, it can result in pulls, tears, and collisions.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.