Active Release Techniques (ART) at the Maloney Elkassem clinic

If you’re looking for Active Release Techniques (ART) treatment in St. Albert or Edmonton, you’ve come to the right place.

We have been providing Active Release Techniques treatment to the St. Albert and Edmonton area since 1997. As well, all three of our chiropractors at the Maloney Elkassem clinic are trained as Active Release Techniques providers and Dr. Kevin Maloney has previously served as an associate instructor for the Active Release Techniques program.

Active Release Techniques (ART) is an innovative treatment that takes a different approach to helping you get better and feel your best. Active Release treatment can often work wonders with problems like headaches, neck pain, shoulder and elbow tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, hip and knee pain, plantar fasciitis and chronic back pain. Active Release is safe, very effective and usually very quick to show results.

ART is one of the most effect forms of treatment for repetitive-motion injuries, has helped Olympic athletes achieve gold medals, and allowed injured athletes to return quickly to their training protocols. With a success rate of over 90%, Active Release Technique has become one of most sought after soft tissue treatments in the world today.

What is ART?

What's the difference between ART and massage therapy?

What is a Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI)?

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and how does ART help?

What causes the pain?

What are adhesions?

Why doesn't the pain go away by itself?

How can I prevent myself from getting an RSI?

How do I know if someone practices ART?

Why haven't I heard about ART before?

How long does it take?

Is the treatment painful?

How long will the problem stay fixed?

Who can ART help?

What about surgery as an option?

Can ART help even after surgery?

Can ART treatment prevent surgery?

How can I help myself get better quicker?

How much does ART treatment cost?

How do I find an ART practitioner in my area?

Making a decision

Please Note: We are providing this information for your benefit. We are not implying "Superiority" of this technique over other chiropractic procedures. Active Release technique is one of the many effective “tools” we use at Maloney Chiropractic Clinic to address musculoskeletal conditions.

Active Release Techniques (ART) Background

In today's world, we are far harder on our bodies than ever before. As our bodies try to keep up with this unrelenting pace, our body’s internal maintenance crew often can only do shoddy patch-up jobs on the damage we do to ourselves.

When repairing muscles, tendons, ligaments or even nerves, the body's quick-fix solution is to slop down scar tissue for the patch-up. Scar tissue is the cheapest grade of tissue that the body manufactures, and as you can see from old cuts on your skin, it takes a long time to be replaced by tissue that looks, feels or works normal. Scar tissue is a lot like glue, sticking things together. This is very good when you sprain your ankle, as this 'glue' holds the torn fibers together as they heal over a couple of months. This is not very good when the process goes overboard and starts gluing other parts of your soft tissue together.

Scar tissue is effective for it’s intended job, but when overproduced can lead to many problems. When, for example, a muscle becomes glued to other muscles, or a nerve is glued to a tendon, your body is no longer working right. Pain, numbness, stiffness and weakness are just some of the descriptions that people use for problems caused by scar tissue gone bad.

Active Release Techniques (ART) was developed primarily for soft tissue injuries. Active Release is rare in it's approach to healing, in that it directly addresses this scar tissue that ‘gums’ up the works.

Active Release Techniques was developed by Dr. Michael Leahy. Prior to becoming a doctor of chiropractic, Dr. Leahy was an aeronautical engineer with the U.S Air Force. This engineering background enabled Dr. Leahy to approach soft tissue injury from a different perspective, eventually coming up with the theories and treatment techniques that formed ART.

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What is ART? 

ART is one of the most effect forms of treatment for repetitive-motion injuries, has helped Olympic athletes achieve gold medals, and allowed injured athletes to return quickly to their training protocols. With a success rate of over 90%, Active Release Technique has become one of most sought after soft tissue treatments in the world today.

ART or Active Release Techniques is a method of treatment that specifically finds and releases areas of scar tissue and adhesion. Becoming proficient in ART is comparable to learning to read Braille, and much the same is a very difficult skill to master. Certified ART practitioners are carefully trained in this procedure.

By releasing areas of scar tissue, ART can help with numerous conditions that affect the various soft tissues and result in pain, numbness, weakness or loss of mobility. It is especially effective in dealing with over use or Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSI's).

Because of it's ability to very specifically locate and release sites with scar tissue or adhesion, ART is a very advanced therapeutic treatment in the care of soft tissue injuries. The 'release' is accomplished by lengthening muscles, ligaments and tendons or pulling a nerve along its path. As this motion is happening the ART practitioner applies specific pressure to split the scar tissue that sticks structures together like glue.

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What's the difference between ART and massage therapy?

ART and massage therapy may look similar, but the procedures are actually very different and the results that they produce are very different. Massage therapy provides numerous beneficial effects, but does not address scar tissue and adhesions. The purpose of ART is simple: fix the soft tissue and make it work properly. ART does this by addressing inflammation and adhesions. Massage therapy and other procedures may be of some benefit in this area, but based on results, ART appears to win hands down.

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What is a Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI)?

An RSI is an injury that occurs with overuse. When muscles have to do the same job over and over, the area can become irritated and then inflamed. The body's response to this inflammation is to lay down some scar tissue, to try and stabilize the area. Once this begins to happen an ongoing cycle begins that leads to a worsening of the condition. This cycle gets harder to break the longer it continues, because of the changes that have occurred in the tissues.

The incidence of RSI's is skyrocketing yearly. Recently, the health care costs in the North America related to RSI's surpassed low back pain as the largest health care expenditure.

Some common examples of RSI's are:

  • golfers elbow (tendonitis) -carpal tunnel syndrome -thoracic outlet syndrome -rotator cuff syndrome (shoulder tendonit
  • is)
  • shin splints
  • IT band syndrome
  • plantar fasciitis
  • chronic neck or back pain may also be the result of RSI’s

Active Release Techniques treatment is an important part of our treatment for these common RSI’s.

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What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and how does ART help?

ART works amazingly well in treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS), a grouping of similar disorders with symptoms in the hand. With CTS, a peripheral nerve, called the median nerve, becomes entrapped somewhere along it's length, causing pain, numbness or weakness. This spaghetti like nerve which travels from the spinal cord in the neck to the tips of the fingers may be affected anywhere along its length.

Until recently most treatment has focused on a small, bony tunnel in the wrist as being the main contributor to the nerve irritation. However, though this tunnel does serve as a potential problem site, emerging studies have shown that areas other than the wrist appear to be more commonly involved with the nerve as it courses it's way down the arm.

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What causes the pain?

When a muscle or tendon gets injured, either traumatically by a tear or gradually with overuse, scar tissue or adhesions will form between fibers. Scar tissue and adhesions act like glue to bind up the tissues, and inflammation develops, swelling up the tissues. The effect of this is to cut off the blood circulation to the area. No blood equals no oxygen. Without oxygen, nerves can't work properly, bringing pain, numbness or weakness.

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What are adhesions?

Adhesions are pieces of scar tissue that act like tiny, little dabs of glue. Scar tissue is the cheapest grade of tissue that the body manufactures to repair itself. These dabs of glue bind the fibers of muscles, tendons, ligaments and even nerves together. When this happens things can't work the way that they're supposed to.

If scar tissue and adhesions are one of the body's healing mechanisms, why do they cause such problems?

Often, when we injure ourselves, we don't take proper care to fix the problem correctly. For this reason, our healing mechanisms can go overboard, working harder and longer than is normal. The result of this process is that there may be too much scar tissue, binding up movement, or scar tissue found in inappropriate places, such as between fibers, attaching to nerves etc. This means that muscles have to work harder to move, movements aren't smooth because of the extra friction scar tissue creates, and nerves can be irritated or choked off.

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Why doesn't the pain go away by itself?

Pain often becomes chronic because the body has begun to function differently. Inflammation and scar tissue impair the blood supply to an area, and set up an ongoing cycle that is self perpetuating and very hard to break. Even stopping the activities that aggravate your condition rarely leads to a fixed problem, because the underlying tissue changes are still present. Without fixing the underlying changes at the root of the problem, a return to work or sports often means a return of the condition. Usually, the only way to properly fix the problem is to release the scar tissue or adhesions. ART is a treatment that specifically targets this.

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How can I prevent myself from getting an RSI?

One of the key reasons that people end up with an RSI is that in today's workplace computerization, automation and work specialization have become so commonplace. The same task is done over and over for hours at a time. Today's computer worker rarely takes a break from typing, because even when a mistake is made, more typing is needed to correct the problem. Thus, one of the easiest and most effective ways to prevent an RSI from occurring from repetitive activity is to regularly stop and stretch the muscles and tendons that are being over worked. A few seconds of stretching every 15 minutes is all that it takes to give your muscles a break.

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How do I know if someone practices ART?

First, ask them. Then ask to see their certificate that indicates that they have completed training and have credentials in ART. This is the only way to ensure that you are being treated in the proper manner.

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Why haven't I heard about ART before?

You may have and not realized it. While certified ART practitioners now number in the thousands, these professionals are spread around North America and the world.

However, ART has been known throughout the injury rehab and pro sports worlds for years as being an excellent tool for rehab and athletic performance enhancement. In fact, numerous Olympic and professional athletes give credit to ART for helping them recover from injury, stay injury free and improve their athletic performance.

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How long does it take?

Once the trouble sites have been identified, each visit may last around 10 minutes. After only a few treatments most people report relief, and most or all the symptoms have often disappeared within 3-6 weeks.

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Is ART treatment painful?

Because of the mild to moderate pressure involved, the treatments can be uncomfortable at first. However, most people report the feeling as "a good hurt", much like the way a good massage feels. As well, after the first visit, some mild discomfort may be present, a feeling much like a muscle after exercise. We always do our best to stay within each patient’s own comfort levels.

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How long will the problem stay fixed? (will my condition come back after I finish the Active Release treatments?)

Usually, the fix is permanent, but ultimately, the answer to this lies with the patient’s individual circumstances. Most problems that ART deals with effectively are the result of overuse on the job or with sports activities. If a person continues with the aggravating activity that originally caused the problem, care must be taken to prevent a re-occurrence. Simple stretches and exercises that are very quick and easy are prescribed to each individual. If these are done correctly on a regular basis, there is a very low chance that the problem will reoccur. In some cases, 'maintenance' care is required at regular intervals to keep the problem at bay.

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Who can ART help?

ART can often help people who suffer from pain, stiffness, numbness, weakness or loss of motion because soft tissue changes are often the root cause of these types of symptoms.

Arthritis symptoms may respond well to ART treatment. In particular, Osteoarthritis (degenerative arthritis) can involve wear-and-tear on the inside of a joint, but much of the pain that you experience may come from the outer soft tissue structures. When this is the case ART treatment can be part of an effective program of pain relief and functional restoration. (All too often, a patient will mention pain in their knee, neck, shoulder etc, but will have resigned themselves to living with the pain, because it’s ‘arthritis’. In the majority of these cases, the person is pleasantly surprised to have their ‘arthritis’ relieved or ‘cured’ with a program including ART treatment. This is not to say that we have eliminated the degenerative arthritis changes in the bony joint, but simply the fact that we have eliminated the real source of their pain – in the soft tissue structures.)

Whiplash and other car accident injuries respond very well to ART.

Workplace injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome, elbow tendonitis, shoulder injuries, neck and back pain generally respond very well to Active Release treatment.

Runners injuries such as hip pain, IT band syndrome, knee pain, patello-femoral syndrome, knee pain, shin splints, achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis all respond very well to Active Release treatment.

Several Types of Headaches respond very well to ART. Headaches that radiate pain from the back of the head to either the temples or the front of the head may respond well to ART treatment. With Active Release treatment, our goal is always to completely eliminate the headaches – not just give temporary relief.

Golfers

are one of the groups that are really attracted to ART treatment. ART can relieve painful conditions like golfer's elbow (tendonitis), shoulder tendonitis or low back pain. It is also an effective way to improve a loss of torso mobility.

Many Sports injuries respond very well to ART treatment. ART has actually come be regarded as a bit of a 'miracle treatment' for Olympic and professional athletes. Prominent athletes in every sport attribute part of their athletic success to ART treatment. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a pro to get treated like one.

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What about surgery vs. Active Release treatment?

This question comes up frequently in the discussion of carpal tunnel syndrome and other nerve entrapment syndromes.

Of course, surgery is always an option. However, one should always carefully consider their options before going ahead with anything that impacts their health. Many of the side effects of surgery are often irreversible. Remember that, by its nature, surgery will result in more scar tissue being formed as part of the re-healing process. For some problems this won't matter much, but for others, keep in mind that scar tissue may have been part of the problem in the first place.

Like any treatment, ART it is not a magic bullet, or cure-all. However, ART is one treatment that is non-invasive, very safe, has virtually no side effects and comes with an impressive success record. Even if ART treatment fails to help resolve your condition it is extremely unlikely that it would make you any worse either and surgery remains as an viable option.

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Can ART help even after surgery?

Yes, ART can often help many conditions even after surgery, but the results and recovery time may not be as good as otherwise, due to the complicating factors that come with surgery.

We commonly treat patients who have already been treated surgically for carpal tunnel syndrome, shoulder pain, knee pain and spinal pain, generally with very good results. However, each individual case must be evaluated on it's own by a health care professional.

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How can I help myself get better quicker?

Patients undergoing ART treatment are given specific stretches, exercises and icing or heating instructions to do on their own. These are all very quick and easy to do, but each one is important and help to speed the healing process along.

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How much does ART treatment cost?

ART treatment typically costs between $30 and $50 per visit depending on several factors, including the severity of the injury and the extent of soft tissue involvement.

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How do I find an ART practitioner in my area?

Call the ART head office in Boulder, Colorado. Their phone number is (719) 473-7000.

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Making a decision

Hopefully, the information gathered here can help guide you or a friend towards help. ART works extremely well at what it does, but remember that nothing is a cure-all. To find out if you could benefit from ART treatment, contact a health care practitioner in your area.

If you’re in the Edmonton area, you can contact us at our St. Albert clinic at (780) 459-8183. For your convenience, we’re open Monday through Saturday.

Outside of the Edmonton area, contact the ART offices in Colorado at (719) 473-7000.

Active Release Techniques treatment offers many advantages and benefits:

  • Provides additional diagnostic data to ensure proper care
  • Detects and corrects major and minor fibrotic changes in the soft tissue
  • Faster rehabilitation/recovery
  • Reduces need for anti-inflammatory medication
  • Resolves many chronic conditions thought to be permanent
  • Usually allows patients to remain on the job or in their sport

      60 Riel Drive,    St. Albert,    Alberta    T8N 5B3      Ph: 780.459.8183