Active release technique (ART) is defined as a treatment based hands-on touch case management system that allows the practitioner to diagnose and treat soft tissue injures. Soft tissue refers to muscle, tendon, fascia, blood vessels, and nerves.
Specific injuries that apply are repetitive strains, adhesions, tissue hypoxia, and joint dysfunction.
The founder of developer of ART is Colorado Springs chiropractor Dr. Michael Leahy. Dr. Leahy first recognized as a college student then as a chiropractic student the macroscopic and microscopic properties of muscle and how those properties respond to injuries. "With my own hands, I felt tenderness, hot spots, and knots, within passive and active muscles."
Dr. Leahy's methods started to generate attention from a few well-known athletes he worked with in California in 1984.
It wasn't until he got to Colorado Springs that his engineering and aviation studies helped him completely understand the negative feedback control system in the human body. The understanding of engineering and how the human body works lead to the development of this gold standard soft tissue treatment called ART.
The hardest thing to learn in ART is touch. We can shorten the exam with knowledge, insight, and perception, but in the end the lesion must be manually identified by touch. Unless the clinician can master this the outcome of the case is left to chance.
Dr. Leahy treated several of the Air Force Academy football players. The swimming team progressed to having several players out with shoulder injuries to having almost never having a swimmer miss a practice or competition.
Soft tissue education in this country has generally been neglected over the years. A practitioner must get certified in ART to perform methods on a patient. Currently, spine, lower extremity, upper extremity, and nerve entrapment certifications are available.