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(FAQs) Active Release Technique

What is Active Release Techniques®?

Active Release Techniques®, often referred to as ART, is a patented soft-tissue injury management system and a mainstay intervention utilized at North Shore Spine and Sport Chiropractic.

When considering the application of ART, Dr. Melander will first assess the problem areas using a combination of patient history, hands-on palpation, and range of motion evaluation.  During the hands-on assessment, Dr. Melander is feeling for areas of abnormal muscle or tissue tone that may indicate the presence of “adhesion” in the evaluated region.

During the actual treatment, Dr. Melander will utilize his hands to contact specific muscular or connective tissue structures and then direct the patient to move their body in a manner that creates “tension” on the targeted tissues.

The patient will feel a sensation in the treated area that is unique to massage or stretching.  An ART treatment will usually involve multiple “protocols” to target the many tissues that affect a given region or joint system. “Adhesion” is often compared to scar tissue in so far as the relevant tissue is no longer as elastic or pliable as it could or should be.

Many people and providers believe that a treatment like ART is “breaking down scar tissue”, however, the current science related to connective tissue indicates that the forces required to actually “break” scar is far greater than a human can generate.

Therefore, it is most likely that ART influences adhesion and scar due to the capacity of connective tissue to adapt according to force and load.  In the case of ART, the force and load is dictated by the provider’s hands, touch, grip as well as the patient’s active movement through a range of motion.

Is Active Release Techniques® effective?

In many cases just one treatment can help greatly reduce stubborn areas of tension and discomfort that have persisted for a patient despite multiple attempts at self-care or other manual therapy intervention.

A well-executed ART treatment should be immediately impactful with regard to the patient’s range of motion and tissue “tightness” and is often immediately impactful in helping to reduce pain associated with the tissues being treated.

Due to the extremely specific and targeted nature of an ART treatment, a well-trained ART provider will be able to find the “bullseyes” of tissue tension that evade many other styles of intervention.  While there are certainly many injuries and conditions that warrant multiple appointments, those conditions for which ART is indicated should begin getting better immediately with a bit of a chipping-away improvement process thereafter.

Many patients will report a localized soreness following a treatment, but the soreness is more akin to exercise soreness and extremely rarely represents an aggravation of the underlying condition.

Dr. Melander has found over the years that patients that experience partial or transient relief with massage therapy, self-massage, foam rolling, etc., tend to experience significantly more lasting and substantial change with ART.

    Is Active Release Techniques® the same as myofascial release?

    Active Release Techniques® is a style of myofascial release created by Dr. Michael Leahy of Colorado Springs, CO.  Many providers in the pain/rehab community will claim to do ART due to its brand recognition and having become largely synonymous with myofascial release, however, only a provider that has completed an ART seminar and passed the required exams for each unique seminar may legally claim to be an ART provider.

    Dr. Melander has been an ART provider for the better part of 10 years and has served as an ART instructor in the United States and Canada for nearly 4 years.

    Active Release Techniques® offers 2 levels of certification/instruction for the upper extremity region, spine region, and lower extremity region.  ART also offers courses in palpation skills, movement assessment, long-tract nerve entrapment, and biomechanics.

    Dr. Melander has been fortunate to build a network of trustworthy and reputable providers all over the country thanks to the standards required of an ART® certified provider.  These days, a discerning eye will notice ART being practiced on the sidelines of nearly every major sport.

    Dr. Melander has been able to utilize his Active Release Techniques® training during the treatment of Olympic and professional athletes, multiple professional performing artists, and countless home and office personnel.

    What are the benefits of Active Release Techniques®?

    First and foremost, the majority of patients seeking care for which ART may be indicated are experiencing some kind of joint or muscle pain.

    In Dr. Melander’s experience, the conditions that respond most favorably to ART are so-called repetitive strain disorders, whereby some activity or activities cause tension/adhesion to develop in a tissue or tissues in a cumulative capacity.

    That being said, ART used in concert with other therapeutic interventions has a role in treating complex disorders like disc disorders, thoracic outlet syndrome, lower back pain, or even post-surgical rehab.

    Easy and relatable examples of repetitive strain disorders include the following:

    Active release technique for carpal tunnel

    • Hand, wrist, forearm pain from typing, cell phone usage, or musical instruments
    • Simple tendinosis/tendinitis

    Active release technique neck

    • Upper neck pain and tension or headaches from staring at a computer for long hours

    Active Release technique plantar fasciitis and leg pain

    • Knee, calf and achilles area pain, foot pain, or shin splints from repeated running and jumping
    • Patellar tendinitis, runner’s knee, quadriceps tendinosis or tendinitis
    • Achilles tendinosis/tendinitis, Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome
    • Plantar fasciitis
    • Hallux valgus (bunion)

    Active release technique shoulder

    • Shoulder area pains from throwing, swimming, lifting or other overhead motions
    • Rotator cuff strain, impingement syndrome, bursitis

    Active release technique for tennis elbow and golfer's elbow

    • Elbow area pain from tennis or golf
    • Tennis elbow "lateral epicondylitis (epicondylalgia)"
    • Golfer's elbow "medial epicondylitis (epicondylalgia)"

    Active release technique hamstring and hips

    • Hip, buttock, and hamstring area pains from multiple athletic activities, gardening, or even prolonged sitting 
    • Bursitis, “piriformis” syndrome, psoas tendinitis, “runner’s butt”, hamstring tendinitis or tendinopathy

    ART is also highly effective in treating nerve-related disorders such as: 

    • Carpal tunnel syndrome 

    • Radial or Ulnar nerve entrapment 

    • Sciatic nerve entrapment

    • Femoral nerve entrapment 

    • Tibial or Fibular nerve entrapment

    Curious if Active Release Techniques® can help you?  Dr. Melander and the team at North Shore Spine and Sport will be happy to discuss your injury/complaint and the potential benefit of ART.  Call, text, or email us anytime to learn more!

    our Chiropractic

    Dr. Melander has often described his work as new-school rehab, which is to say, an amalgamation of current best practices regarding pain or injury management, hands-on manual therapy or strength/mobility training, and endless advocacy and support for his patients.

    In Dr. Melander’s opinion, the best providers in the field of musculoskeletal injury are able to draw from multiple disciplines to create the most efficient and impactful care strategy for their patients.  If you are injured or hurting and not sure what to do, please reach out, it will be our greatest pleasure to help you.

    We serve Newburyport and surrounding North Shore communities, including: Newbury, West Newbury, Rowley, Byfield, Georgetown, Amesbury, Salisbury, Ipswich, Seabrook NH, Hampton NH, Rye NH.


    Many soft tissue therapies are too generalized, ART® hits bullseyes


    There are ART® protocols for nearly all muscle, ligament, and peripheral nerve structures

    Scar Tissue

    ART® can be extremely effective in influencing favorable adaptation of scar tissue (fibrosis)

    Improve Recovery

    ART® can help negate soft tissue strain so you can keep doing what you like to do

    Reduce Pain

    Pain inherent to soft tissue strain can be rapidly reduced with ART® 

    Improve Range of Motion

    Reduce soft tissue tension, increase range of motion

    Chiropractic FAQs

    We've compiled a list of common chiropractic questions to help you get all the answers you are looking for. If you have additional questions if our chiropractic and treatment services in North Shore would be a good fit for you, please contact our team. 

    How do I know if I should see a chiropractor?

    Chiropractors are trained in the evaluation and management (IE: treatment) of issues affecting the neuromusculoskeletal system (muscles, joints, connective tissue, nerves).  Many people associate chiropractic care with the spine only, but this is an inaccurate reflection of many chiropractors in the 21st century who are experts in treating spinal issues AND extremity issues (arms and legs).  As a general rule of thumb, if you have a painful condition that does not get better given a few days of activity modification you may want to consult a professional like a chiropractor.  Your chiropractor should be able to evaluate your painful condition, offer you some perspective and guidance relative to the painful condition, and help you care for the painful condition if treatment is warranted.  Like any profession though, each chiropractor has different clinical experience and different post-graduate education that may lend their practice toward a focus on sports injuries or pregnancy/neonatal care or neurologic issues or nutritional issues to name just a few.  If you are considering seeing a chiropractor, make sure that their experience and skill set seems like a proper match for your complaint and your ultimate goals.

    How do I choose a good chiropractor?

    Choosing a good chiropractor does not have to be a complicated process.  To begin with, ask your friends or family if they know someone they trust and can vet for you.  Next, check online as most chiropractors should have fairly informative websites relative to their clinical interests and experience that may help indicate whether they are a good fit for your issue.  If you are still not sure who to see after taking those steps, call your prospective chiropractor’s office as either the staff or the chiropractor will be more than happy to answer any questions and tell you if your issue is something commonly treated in that office.  Many people also like to read online reviews and while some online reviews can be misleading, if the significant majority of a chiropractor’s reviews are super positive then chances are you can trust the expertise of that provider.  Lastly, and arguably the most important step in choosing a good chiropractor, remember that you are in total control of your healthcare decision making.  If you go to an initial or follow-up appointment and you are not absolutely confident in the assessment and plan your chiropractor has rendered, then seek a second opinion.

    What can a chiropractor fix?

    A chiropractor can help you fix a wide variety of painful conditions related to the neuromusculoskeletal system such as headaches, back/neck pain, shoulder/elbow/wrist/hand pains, hip/knee/ankle/foot pains to name just a few.  Injuries of actual orthopedic compromise like fractures are best handled by orthopedists, but chances are if your pain/injury is non-surgical in nature then a chiropractor may be a great option to help you.  The best chiropractors will explain what they can about your pain/injury, offer guidance and likely treatment as efficiently as possible (days to weeks, maybe months in extreme situations), and then remove themselves and let your brain/body do the rest.  A great deal of research these days indicates that in many healthcare interactions providers should try and limit their patient’s dependency on them, opting instead for interventions and language that fosters resiliency and self-efficacy (independence).

    What happens at your first chiropractic appointment?

    Your first chiropractic appointment should include a detailed discussion of your health history and presenting complaint(s), an examination of your complaint(s), a discussion regarding what is indicated by the examination relative to prognosis and treatment plan, and finally some form of treatment/intervention assuming time permits.  Many painful conditions can be evaluated thoroughly and completely in a matter of minutes and certain treatment interventions could yield immediate relief, while other conditions may require more complex evaluations and more lengthy treatment plans.  Above all, you should leave your first chiropractic appointment feeling confident that your chiropractor is the best option to help you with your problem and you should leave feeling confident that you are on the road to recovery.

    How often should you see a chiropractor?

    You should see a chiropractor as often as you want or need.  Perhaps the most common criticism of chiropractors is that chiropractors “need to see you for the rest of your life”, and while there are unfortunately examples of chiropractors who advocate for this kind of dependency, the significant majority of chiropractors today want to help you as quickly as possible with no long-term commitments of any kind.  The best chiropractor will see you the minimally necessary number of times to help you overcome your issue and suggest you follow-up if there are any residual issues or new complaints sometime in the future.  Many patients however recognize how good they feel after chiropractic care and therefore wish to see their chiropractor with some kind of recurring frequency (IE: once/month, twice/year, or more).  These examples though should be dictated by the patient based on their assessment of their body’s needs and absolutely not dictated by the chiropractor based on some kind of pseudoscientific reasoning.

    Does insurance pay for chiropractor?

    In many cases, yes, insurance will help pay for chiropractic care assuming the chiropractor is participating with your health insurer.  If your chiropractor is not participating with health insurance, then it is still possible you have an out-of-network benefit with your insurer and can seek reimbursement that way.

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