Active Release Technique: Is it For You?

By Dr Ken Nakamura+

Active Release Technique: Is it For You? Downtown Toronto Chiropractor

Have you thought about getting Active Release Technique for your muscle ache?


Were you wondering if Active Release Technique is effective for your pain?


Active Release Technique (ART)is one of the most popular techniques used on athletes. Increasingly the technique is used to treat non-athletic injuries, anywhere you have tight muscles and knots that need relief.


Active Release Technique or ART is also called Myofascial Release Technique. The techniques are identical but I will use the term Active Release Technique.



Active Release Technique uses the patients’ own movement specific for that particular muscle making the technique “Active”.  Your chiropractor will first press on specific points on the muscle. While pressing the point your chiropractor will move the muscle through it’s main movement specific for that muscle. When you get the hang of the movement your chiropractor will ask you to do the movement by yourself while he/she presses on the point.


So if your chiropractor is releasing a biceps muscle then he/she will press on the biceps. While pushing on the muscle he/she will show you how to flex and extend your biceps. Next step, the chiropractor pushes on the point while you flex and extend your biceps muscle on your own.


The idea is that Active Release Technique removes fibrosis or adhesions that develop in the muscles or tendon from repetitive use.  The adhesions cause the muscles to shorten and become weak changing the movement of joints sometimes affecting your nerves. Thus the technique is used to treat problems with muscles, tendons, nerves, fascia and ligaments.


So if you have these conditions Active Release Technique can help:

  • Headheaches
  • Lower Back Pain
  • Mid Back Pain
  • Upper Back Pain
  • Neck Pain
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Nerve Entrapments
  • Shin Splints
  • Sciatica
  • TMJ
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Tendonitis

 What Does It Feel Like?

Active Release Technique: Is it For You? Downtown Toronto Chiropractor

It feels kind of like the picture above. Seriously though it really depends on how hard your practitioner pushes. It can feel like a sore spot or a lot of pain. You and your chiropractor should decide together.


Active Release Technique or ART is also called Myofascial Release Technique. There really is no difference between the actual technique, the only difference is that Active Release Technique is a properitary technique meaning one person owns it, and stands to make a profit from it.


The costs to learn the technique are also prohibitively expensive. So people that are licensed in Active Release Technique or ART wants to protect their investment.  So if you ask a person doing Active Release Technique which is better, they will say surely say Active Release Technique and not Myofascial Release Technique to protect their investment.


Having said all this there isn’t a lot of research proving that it works. A lack of research can mean it works but it just isn’t proven like chiropractic was in it’s early days. Hopefully it will be proven later on.


The good news is I know it works. I simply examine the patient before and after I do the active release technique or rather myofascial release technique. If I see a difference on the examination I do right after the technique I know that it worked.


That’s not proof though. Proof does require research but it is these personal cases that get people to do the actual research.


In my experience I find release techniques to be helpful to decrease muscle tension, but I also use trigger point technique, acupuncture, manipulation, mobisation, laser, Shockwave therapy etc… etc… In other words it’s not a cure all and it’s just another tool in the tool box.


Tell us what you think in the comments below and like us on Facebook. This Toronto Downtown Chiropractor will answer all questions in the comments section.





Dr Ken Nakamura

2 Responses to Active Release Technique: Is it For You?
  • Natalie Henderson says:
    December 3, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    I am currently experiencing extreme pain in my tailbone region. This creates pain in the area where my thigh bones connect to the pelvis. When I walk, bend, stand or sit for longer than 10-15 minutes I begin to have pain that radiates down n around my thighs, which is excruciating. I see a chiropractor weekly and live in the US…LA,CA. I plan on asking him about ART and if he’s familiar with it. Thank you for giving me another avenue other than manipulation, shock therapy and heat. I have been suffering for the last few months and it is not getting any better.

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      December 6, 2016 at 12:18 pm

      Thanks for your question Natalie. If this chiropractor was familiar with ART he would have used it already. Also from your history it is apparent to me that your case is mildly complicated. It means typical treatments will generally not work. It’s time to see a different chiropractor.

      Hope that helps your tailbone.

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