Active Release Technique — ART and injury

Posted on: March 11th, 2014 by SMIWebAdmin
ART and injury

 Many “injuries” can be classified as cumulative or repetitive stress injuries. Many of our daily activities involve repetitive motions, whether it is working at a computer, running, or playing tennis. These activities by themselves are usually not problematic. However, when combined with poor posture, previous injury, or asymmetry in movement, the repetitive motion can lead to microtrauma in the tissue causing pain and/or limited range of motion. The defining line between pain, tightness, and more serious injury can be difficult. But being aware of problematic areas and/or changes in how we are feeling can be very useful in preventing further injury/pain. ART can be used to manage both the daily wear and tear on our body as well as treating injury when it becomes symptomatic. 

For example, a common injury in runners is pain on the outside of the knee, or Iliotibial band (ITB) pain. People will often complain of a sharp onset of pain during a run followed by prolonged soreness. Stairs and walking downhill can aggravate the symptoms. After evaluation, treatment consists of various massage techniques including ART to the tissue surrounding the iliotibial band from the hip to the knee and sometimes the lower leg. This breaks up the adhesions between muscles and other soft tissue while increasing range of motion and reducing/eliminating pain. Additionally, at-home exercises are prescribed to address stability, strength and/or flexibility problems that may have contributed to the injury.


How does ART work?

Active Release Technique is a unique massage technique that involves movement. Although the treatment can at times be painful, it is less about depth of treatment and more about specificity and motion. When tissue is injured or damaged, the body lays down scar tissue or adhesions which are shorter than normal, healthy tissue. This can lead to limited range of motion and pain. ART is used to “release” this scar tissue, lengthening the restricted tissue, and improving the overall movement.

ART is effective in treating traumatic injuries such as a sprained ankle or a strained hamstring and in repetitive use injuries such as low back pain, Achilles tendinopathy, iliotibial band (ITB) syndrome or carpal tunnel. Regardless of the cause of the injury, ART is most effective when combined with a home treatment routine including stretching and strengthening exercises.


Can ART help prevent injury? 

While many people seek ART providers to treat specific injury, it can also be used as a preventative treatment tool to maintain elasticity and range of motion. Often, athletes and active individuals use ART to manage the regular stress to the tissue and help prevent injuries from starting. Someone who truly understands the importance of ART is Krys Kolanos. Playing in the NHL, he has struggled with a number of injuries. Using ART, Krys has learned how to optimize recovery in between games so he isn’t limited by tension/pain and can play his best.


“ART has been a key avenue for keeping my body in an ideal performing state in the NHL. It’s effective in priming my body to move properly right before and during my skating and training sessions. It’s also effective after training and on “off” days to maintain the proper tone in muscles and balance throughout my body. ART is an intricate part of my daily routine. For every hour of training or skating, I make a goal of doing 20 minutes of bodywork including ART. Needless to say, I spend a lot of time doing ART. Using this modality has given me a great edge in my daily performance. The more I have ART done on my body it learns and remembers and is more responsive and inclined to get to the ideal state quicker. I’m a huge advocate of ART for any athlete and making it a part of his/her lifestyle.” Krys Kolanos

If you have questions regarding Active Release Technique, you can email:




or call our office at 650-322-2809.   

Back to SMI Newsletter top