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  • On Your Mark

Active Release (ART) for Sports Performance, Injury Rehab and Pain Relief

Are you an athlete or exercise enthusiast? Do you sit at a desk for long hours every day? Do you suffer from low back pain or other types of pain and injuries? The chances are that the answer to at least one of these questions is, yes.

If so, then Active Release may be a good solution, especially if injuries and pain continue to hold you back and if you have tried other injury therapy techniques with limited success.

Active Release Techniques, also known as Active Release, ART and Active Release Therapy, is a movement-based medical massage technique that treats a wide range of sports injuries and pain. It has grown in visibility and popularity over the past decade because of its effectiveness and versatility.

How is ART Different?

While there are many excellent injury recovery treatment options out there, Active Release Techniques is unique for several reasons. The combination of these unique factors put ART over the edge with respect to treatment outcomes.


Active Release is all about moving injured tissues and affected joints through their full range of motion. This is not the case with other traditional sports massage techniques such as deep tissue massage, myofascial release, rolfing and trigger point therapy. This is not to say that these other massage therapy treatments aren't helpful, because they can be.

But the emphasis that ART puts on movement makes it a more functional treatment than many others. Thus is because the human body is all about movement. We don't hurt ourselves laying down and we don't live our lives without moving. While sitting for long periods can cause low back pain, on the whole it is movement/motion that triggers pain. So in order to truly help a client return back to the activities that typically provoke their symptoms, Active Release actually replicates those movements in pain-free positions during treatment.

For example, someone with a shoulder impingement often times cannot move his or her arm and shoulder without a certain level of pain. A highly-skilled ART provider will carefully treat the shoulder joint complex in different positions, many of which usually do cause pain. The idea is to get the shoulder into the positions and motions that normally cause pain but without doing so during the treatment.

If you're a pitcher, tennis player, cross fitter or having young kids who want to be put on your shoulders, then the best way to get back to performing these sports and activities is to perform the movements that they require but without pain. So when combined with the right exercises to help improve strength and stability, ART can be an awesome tool.


There are well over 500 protocols taught collectively in all of the Active Release Technique seminars. These protocols have been developed for very specific muscles, groups of muscles, nerves, ligaments, joints and connective tissue. So when an ART practitioner identifies which areas of the body are injured or are contributing to an injury, the practitioner can get very specific and detailed in the treatment process.

This can take the form of treating a single muscle or muscle group in order to increase muscle length and joint range of motion. Or it can mean finding adhesions between two adjacent muscles and very specifically attempting to un-adhere them from one another. These protocols are so specific to Active Release Techniques that they cannot be easily replicated in any meaningful way by using alternative treatments.

There are so many anatomical connections in the body and in specific joints. Being able to target and treat with precision can be the key to successful injury recovery and sports performance enhancement. The ART developers are constantly refining and creating new protocols based on patient outcomes, practitioner feedback and internal research. So the discipline is an ever-evolving method that always strives to get better.

Training and Education

ART providers must pass through a rigorous educational and training process to become and stay certified. Just to be able to take a seminar, one must have a strong anatomy knowledge base and possess exceptional diagnostic, palpation and treatment skills.

The courses are very technical, lengthy and intensive. They typically last for 3-4 days, are 80% hands-on and require passing a practical exam with a score of 90% in order to pass the course. In addition, each seminar includes a lengthy written exam that must be completed.

I have taken many courses. For some of them I have spent upwards of 30 hours pre-studying and preparing for the course. This is vital in order to get the most out of them. By the end of the ginal day of my most recent course, was mentally and physically wrecked. But, it was worth it, to say the least.

Upon becoming certified, ART providers are required to re-certify each year in order to maintain their Active Release Techniques credentials. This ensures that all providers review, refine and improve their techniques under the supervision of multiple instructors who teach the courses.

In short, Active Release has been a game changer for On Your Mark Sports Massage and Fitness ever since we began training in it back in 2013. Our treatment outcomes have exponentially improved in transformative ways for our clients.



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