What is Active Release Technique (ART)

Active Release Technique (ART) is a state of the art soft tissue system/movement based massage technique that treats problems that result from overused muscles. ART works for muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and nerves. Conditions such as headaches, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, shin splints, shoulder pain, sciatica, plantar fasciitis, knee problems, and tennis elbow can be resolved quickly with ART.

Over-used muscles (and other soft tissues) are compromised in three important ways:

  • Acute conditions (pulls, tears, collisions, etc.)

  • Accumulation of small tears (micro-trauma)

  • Lack of oxygen (hypoxia).

Each of these factors can cause the body to produce tough, dense scar tissue in the affected area. This scar tissue binds up and ties down tissues that need to move. Build-up of scar tissue causes muscles to become shorter and weaker, tension on tendons causes tendonitis, and nerves can become trapped. This can cause a number of problems, including reduced range of motion, loss of strength, and pain. If a nerve is trapped you may also feel tingling, numbness, and weakness.

Every ART session combines both examination and treatment. The therapist uses his or her hands to evaluate the texture, tightness and movement of muscles, fascia, tendons, ligaments and nerves. Abnormal tissues are treated by combining precisely directed tension specific movements by the patient.

A muscle treated with ART is shortened and a manual tension is applied to the muscle by a therapist’s fingers. Then, the patient actively lengthens the muscle while the therapist holds tension on the muscle. When a muscle is tight, the technique works by increasing the nervous system’s tolerance to stretch the muscle.

The difference between ART and other techniques and services is that during an ART treatment, the patient actively moves the affected structure, muscle, or ligament while the therapist maintains contact on the injured area. This allows the therapist to feel the structure as it moves under their contact, and to effectively treat those restricted muscles, tendons, or ligaments.  While ART may look and feel very similar to massage, the big difference is that massage will relax the muscles, while ART will actually help to treat and relieve the pain.

At IMPACT Physical Therapy, we want the best for all of our patients. Our therapists are fully trained in ART so that you get the best treatment possible, and the fastest results.

Clinicians To Perform This Service

Gretchen Thompson

Jimmy Bedolla

Liz Yerly

Courtney Odelson-Dynes

Amanda Heuser

Locations To Perform This Service


Oak Lawn


South Loop