Skip to main content

Active Release Technique (ART)


Active Release Techniques (ART) is a soft tissue method that focuses on relieving tissue tension via the removal of fibrosis/adhesion that can develop in tissues from overload due to repetitive use. It is both diagnostic and treating techniques for the disorders which may lead to weakness, numbness, tingling, burning, aching etc.

Benefits of Active Release Technique

1. Increases Flexibility

By relaxing muscles naturally and reducing tough adhesions around muscles and joints, studies have demonstrated that even a single ART treatment session can help increase flexibility. This includes increasing flexibility in the legs, specifically the hamstrings, which tend to be a very tight area for even healthy, active adults and susceptible to recurring injuries.

A 2006 study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found that a single ART treatment helped 20 physically active male participants with no current or previous injuries to improve their scores on a sit-and-reach flexibility test. Following the treatment, the men on average experienced improved flexibility in the lower legs, which could translate to better protection against future injuries and even improved athletic performance.

2. Improves Range of Motion Following Injuries

Research shows that ART treatments can help improve range of motion and mobility in those with musculoskeletal disorders or following injuries (acute trauma) and episodes of chronic pain. Adults have a whopping 70 percent chance of developing neck pain during their lives, and ART is now considered to be beneficial for treating chronic neck pain that can be caused by work-related injuries, sports or exercise.

One study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science compared the influence of active release technique to joint mobilization (JM) in patients with chronic neck pain. Visual abilities, pain scores, pressure pain threshold and neck range of motion were measured in the study’s 24 participants before and after treatments. Patients were assigned to one of three groups: an ART group, a JM group and a control group.

Following treatments, both the ART group and JM group demonstrated significant changes in visual abilities and neck range of motion compared to the control group. The ART group was found to produce greater improvements overall in several of the markers compared to both the JM and control groups.

3. Reduces Chronic Lower Back Pain

One 2013 study conducted by the Korean Academy of Physical Therapy Rehabilitation Science found that ART helps lower symptons of lower back pain, considered to be one of the leading sources of dysfunction among adults. Lower back pain has commonly been found to be triggered from abnormal activation and adhesions within the upper legs (specifically the gluteus medius), but ART can help break up scar tissue and release compressed nerves.

Twelve patients with chronic low back pain participated in this study and received ART treatments two times a week for three weeks, resulting in significantly lower pain intensity and pressure, according to a pain visual analogue scale.

4. Treats Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Findings from a small 2006 clinical pilot study published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine suggest that active release technique can be an effective treatment strategy for patients with carpal tunnel syndrome, which results in limited hand mobility and often swelling or pain due to nerve compression. Patients first completed a questionnaire and examination to assess their symptoms, then received active release technique treatments using a protocol intended to affect the median nerve of the hands three times a week for two weeks. Following treatment, patients reported significant improvements in symptom severity and showed increases in functional status scores compared to the start of the study.

5. Helps Prevent Running Injuries and Improve Performance

There’s now evidence that ART treatments can help promote faster muscle recovery and improve running or athletic performance. According to, ART is considered “one of the fastest roads to recovery” by serious athletes. It does this by helping restore normal muscle and connective tissue function, keeping the body flexible, and reducing fibrous tissue accumulation, which can go unnoticed in training athletes.

It’s possible for runners, athletes who perform triathlons and those who are training for professional competitions to miss signs of adhesions before it’s too late. This can cause tightening and shortening of muscles that wind up taking an athlete off the field due to limited mobility and strength loss.

Information Sources Include:

Connect With Us