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Category Archives: Treatments

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