Active Release Techniques (ART): Using Pain for Permanent Relief

Are you someone who lives with the effects of scar tissue? Living with soft tissue pain, weakness, or muscle dysfunction is often the result of scar tissue. Thankfully, a treatment approach called Active Release Technique (ART) was developed by Dr. P. Michael Leahy for the removal of scar tissue. ART is beneficial for injuries involving tendons, muscles, myofascia, nerves, and soft tissue. This can include carpal tunnel, tennis elbow, Achilles tendonitis, chronic neck pain, muscle or tendon tears, and more. It has proven to be effective in reducing pain and restoring range of motion.


First used with major athletes 30 years ago, Active Release Technique, also called Active Release Therapy, is precise and effective. Sometimes only one session is necessary for results. However, it is also painful. Noting the pain pressure threshold of the patient, the injury is manually manipulated by a certified healthcare professional. By applying sustained and direct pressure while simultaneously stretching the muscle point of injury, a “lock” is created which shortens the usable length of muscle as the stretch is performed. Within this discomfort, circulation is increased causing a reduction in pain and spasm.

art technique

One reason ART is effective and different than other approaches is that it involves voluntary movement from the patient. Because of this, scar tissue is broken up and spasms are relieved quickly and correctly providing long lasting effects on pain and mobility.


If you are a recreational or professional athlete, a chronic pain patient with symptoms from overuse, or someone who has not found relief with conventional therapies, then ART may be right for you. Although some people may be able to perform ART on themselves, the safest and most effective treatments will be from chiropractors, physical therapists, massage therapists, certified athletic trainers, and medical doctors with a license to treat soft-tissue injuries. Health care professionals with ART certification are the only providers who are properly trained to treat patients using this technique. Please be safe and use a certified ART professional.


Although the ART procedure seems like torture, people have described the experience as one that “hurts so good”. They know it’s going to be uncomfortable and painful but because of the results it delivers, they endure it having decided it’s worth it. Despite this approach seeming unorthodox and out of the mainstream, compared with other approaches, one clinical trial suggested ART is an effective conservative management strategy.


Thank you, Dr. P. Michael Leahy for your advancement in modern medicine with Active Release Technique.

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