Active Release Technique (ART) is a form of physical therapy that concentrates on healing injuries by correcting the soft tissue of an affected area. The technique was founded by Dr. P. Michael Leahy and is a manual form of treatment that focuses on muscles, ligaments and tendons that have become damaged due to the overuse caused by an athlete’s training.

When a muscle becomes damaged scar tissue forms, the muscle shortens, and movement patterns can become altered. The body compensates to protect the injured muscle and the athlete is left with a compromised range of motion from the muscle, which can easily lead to frustrating performance.

An ART practitioner works to identify the damaged areas manually. Then through deep tissue massage, the application of pressure and specific movement patterns, they heal the damaged muscles. The result is that the athlete hopefully experiences the freedom of movement enjoyed before the injury. Soft tissue injuries are especially prevalent in high impact activities such as running and jumping, and make a ART a great addition to an athlete’s track and field training or basketball workouts. 

As ART surges in popularity, the number of successful athletes lining up to praise the method is increasing. Olympians such as 2006 silver medalist Jeff Pain, and 2010 gold medalist Jon Montgomery are believers in the treatment. So is World Series MVP and Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels who incorporates active release treatments as part of his pitching training.

The treatment’s increase in popularity can largely be attributed to its ability to heal so many different sports-related injuries.

Another benefit is the negligible recovery time. Patients feel immediate relief and are not limited in their motion as they are able to engage in physical activity immediately following a treatment. The only limitation is that a day between sessions is recommended. ART is also not appropriate for injuries resulting from blunt trauma or for treating cases of active inflammation.

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