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Author Archives: Scott Okrainetz

ART… What’s That?


You may have seen this around, and might be wondering what we’re talking about.  No, it’s not ART like sculpting, painting, drawing, photography, etc., it’s Active Release Technique, or A.R.T. for short.

What is it?

A.R.T. is a non-invasive manual manipulation therapy based in massage that treats problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, and nerves.  That’s a long way of saying it is a treatment protocol some practitioners like Bob & Scott use to treat soft tissue injuries.

A.R.T. requires specific accreditation, and includes learning from over 500 different treatment protocols.

What is A.R.T. used for?

Typically A.R.T. is used for over-use injuries.  The most common of which present themselves as headaches, back and neck pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, shin splints, knee problems, tennis elbow, sciatica, and plantar fasciitis.  These are the over-use injuries we are all the most familiar with, but there are far too many ways over-use injuries can present to list them all here.

Over-use injuries occur usually in 3 separate ways:

– Acute injuries (sudden, forceful injuries such as pulls, tears, collisions, etc.) that go untreated

– Accumulation of small tears (micro-trauma, builds up over time, common with poor technique)

– Not getting enough oxygen to the muscle leading to fatigue (Hypoxia)

ART CycleWhen we say ‘Over-use Injury’, what comes to mind?  Chances are you’ve had an injury caused by over-use and may have not even known it. Over-use injuries occur typically because of an increase in frequency, intensity, or duration of a particular movement.

Many injuries of this nature are actually caused from work.  It doesn’t matter if your work requires you to swing a hammer hour after hour, type at a keyboard, sit at a desk or in a driver’s seat, walk (or run) all over your facility, climb up and down ladders, make cup after cup of coffee and lattes, play an instrument, or even take care of your family and home.

Chances are, you’ve experienced an over-use injury as a result of sports as well.  Perhaps when the nicer weather comes, you get out and start running or walking a few times a week and notice your shins or your knee getting gradually more painful.  Or gardening is making your shoulders hurt.  Or playing tennis or golf you’ve got pain in your forearm and elbow.  Or you’re noticing pain in your feet when you stand up.  The list can go on…

The sign of an over-use injury first of all is usually pain.  Pain is your body’s number 1 way of telling you something is wrong.  There may also be swelling, numbness, muscle weakness, or restricted movement.  If a trapped nerve is involved, you may also notice tingling, shooting pain, or a burning sensation.

Each of the changes detailed above causes your body to produce thick, tough scar tissue.  This scar tissue binds the muscle, tendon or ligament that needs the ability to move easily.  As scar tissue builds, muscles can become shorter and weaker, tendons develop tendinopathy, and nerves become trapped.

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How does A.R.T. help?

In short, A.R.T. breaks up those build-ups of scar tissue, releases muscles and returns your soft tissue to the correct alignment and movement pattern. It is also able to remove adhesions within muscles, increase blood flow to regions and take pressure from surrounding tissues off of nerves.

What should you expect in an A.R.T. treatment?

Regardless of whom you see, at Fernwood Health and Performance it would be Dr. Bob Mabee (chiropractor) or Scott Okrainetz (physiotherapist), treatment should always start with a thorough assessment of the painful and surrounding areas. This allows the practitioner to ensure the treatment is targeted well to that patient and not a preformed treatment.

Each treatment has three parts to it:

1) Shorten the tissue

2) Trap the tissue

3) Actively lengthen the tissue

What does A.R.T. feel like?

We hate to lie to any patient, A.R.T. can be quite painful, however it’s rapid benefits can be astounding! Here are some of the quotes about A.R.T. that we’ve gotten from previous patients:

“Hurts so GOOD!!!”

“Felt like I was dying during it, but absolutely loose, relaxed and free of that nagging ache after.”

“It’s like a good kind of pain from a deep stretch or getting out that kink that’s been bugging you!”

“Normally I let things linger, but was surprised how quickly A.R.T. made me feel better!”

“I was excited at how quickly it got me back to my training! It BEAT all my expectations!!!”

“It’s what keeps me going, even when I’m not too sore and I get it, I’m amazed at the great results!”

“I’ve never had any other treatment make me feel so much better as quickly as A.R.T.”


When you are in for a treatment with Bob or Scott, feel free to ask them about A.R.T.  Chances are they may have already used it in you and you didn’t know it. If you have an ache that has been nagging on you and keeping you from performing at your best, A.R.T. might just be the thing that gets you back to health and living the life you love.


By Scott Okrainetz, MPT


Five Great Stretches for Office Workers


Are you chained to a desk all day every day? 

If so, chances are that you experience headaches, neck pain, back pain, hip pain, or a whole host of other issues.

The fact is, our bodies aren’t designed to sit at a desk all day, we are meant to mobile!  Sitting for long periods of time, especially long periods of time that are repeated day after day can actually make your lower back stiffer or cause you other problems due to poor posture. (

There are a few things you can do to reduce your pain, and make your day at the office less stressful on your body. These can be simple things – nothing drastic that will change your office or your daily routine.  One thing to be sure of, is that your workstation is properly set up, with a chair that fits you. Another is to take micro-breaks, a minute each half hour works great, where you just get up and walk around the office. However the easiest change that will reap the biggest reward, is stretching.


Stretch 1:Arm overhead stretch

Bend your arms behind your head, and try to scrub your shoulder blades. Stretch on each side for 30 seconds. This helps your shoulders, by stretching several muscles including your lats and triceps, which will help alleviate stiffness and heavy feeling in your shoulders.

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Stretch 2: seated cat cow

The cat-cow stretch.  Sitting with your feet flat on the floor, inhale and round your back and shoulders, letting your head drop

forward so you get another great view of your lovely office carpet.  The exhaling, stretch up, arching your back and looking up at your beautiful ceiling.  Move back and forth through this 10 times slowly. This helps by increasing the fluid movement of the spine, which will help alleviate that stiff achy feeling in your back.

Photo source: © Barry Stone




Stretch 3: lateral reach

Have you seen Olympic divers?  this is your version – sit up tall, interlace your fingers, and stretch your hands in front of you, palms facing out – the bring your arms over your head, stretch up and hold 10 seconds, then bend to either side for 30 seconds each.  This helps the muscles all through your arms, right down to your wrists and hands which will help alleviate stiffness through them and into your upper back.

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lumbopelvic twist


Stretch 4:

Sometimes a good twist deserves another, this stretch not only will help your lower back, but your hips as well but stretching your glute muscles. Cross one leg over the other then brace the opposite arm against the leg that’s on top as you grab your chair and slowly twist. Hold this one again for a good 30 seconds then switch to do the other side.

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Stretch 5:cervical rolling

This one is a real head spinner, but the great thing about neck stretches and motions is a loose neck can lead to less tension headaches. Too many hours staring at a screen in one position can lead to poor posture and worsening pain. Some people have pain in the neck already so you should make sure you’re doing this in a pain free range as you slowly circle your head around 10 times clockwise and 10 times counter clockwise.  This isn’t a held stretch, but it can do wonders for any stiffness.

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The one thing to keep in mind with all stretches is that they should NEVER be painful, it should at most feel like a moderate pull. Try to get yourself into a routine – every time you get up to get a coffee, run through these stretches to loosen up, or like we said earlier grab that extra minute and take a walk to loosen up the rest of your body.


By Scott Okrainetz, MPT