Active Release Technique

While vacationing in beautiful Grand Marais, MI in the U.P., I threw my lower back out again.  I had a terrible cold to start with that left me coughing so hard the muscles in my low back were strained to the point that any movement I made sent shockwaves of pain throughout my body.  Add to that we were sleeping on a thin mattress in a pop up camper, which didn’t provide much back support, needless to say.  I knew that the only way to relieve my pain was to see a Chiropractor. 

I had had back manipulations many times in the past, and hoped that I could go get a manipulation somewhere and quickly get back to our vacation.  So, my husband and I ended up heading to Marquette for the day to see a Chiropractor who was kind enough to work me into his busy schedule.  After adjusting my frozen vertebrae, the Chiropractor had me see his Massage Therapist, Adrienne,
who happened to be skilled in Active Release Technique, something I had never heard of.

Active Release Technique, (or ART)  is a patented, state-of-the-art tissue/movement massage technique that works with overused muscles to provide relief and remove adhesion’s between the ligaments and muscles.  ART was developed by P. Michael Leahy, DC, CCSP who discovered that his patient’s symptoms were related to changes in their soft tissue, which could be felt by hand.  By studying how muscles, fascia, nerves, tendons and ligaments responded to different types of work, he was able to resolve 90% of their problems.

The Massage Therapist that worked with me massaged my lower back, feeling for the source of the pain.  She said that my SI joint was very tight, and by using her hands and manipulating my body, she was able to loosen the tight, painful muscles around the joint and ligaments.  As she worked, she explained about ART and how it works.  Over time, the muscles get shortened either by low oxygen flow or microtears from injury or normal pulling and torsion. Scar tissue builds up over time and can pinch and trap nerves.

The miracle was after one round of this procedure, the pain I had been feeling for months, years even, was finally pinpointed and relieved.  The next day I felt much better, my stiffness and soreness was mostly gone, and although I still had to sleep on the thin mattress, I now had some exercises I could do to relieve the pain, and learned to sleep on my back with a pillow under my knees to take the pressure off the joints.  I will need more ART therapy to completely resolve the muscle/joint pain, but until I find a provider in my area who can perform this technique, I should go to fitness bootcamp in Ann Arbor to loosen the muscles up and make them stronger!

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