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Active Release Techniques® and Graston Technique

Active Release Techniques®

Active Release Techniques® or ART® is [an established] and highly successful hands-on approach to injuries of muscles, tendons, fascia, nerves and the surrounding soft tissues." "It is similar to some massage techniques, only it's more aggressive. 'The art of it all is being able to know where to look for adhesions, how to feel for them and how to use active motion of the body part to break them up,' says inventor Mike Leahy, D.C."

The technique is extremely effective on injuries like muscle strains, rotator cuff tendonitis, tennis elbow, achilles tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome. When a muscle, tendon, or ligament is torn (strained or sprained) or nerve is damaged, healing occurs in three stages called the inflammatory response: acute inflammation, repair and remodeling. In acute inflammation, redness, swelling, heat and pain occur. This phase lasts approximately 72 hours. After the inflammation recedes, repair begins. The damaged tissues heal with adhesions or scar tissue formation rather than the formation of brand new tissue.

Scar tissue is weaker, less elastic, less pliable and more pain sensitive than healthy tissue. These adhesions disrupt the normal muscle function, which in turn affects the biomechanics of the joint complex, and can lead to pain and dysfunction. This makes prompt and proper treatment essential for healing and rehabilitation.

Active Release Techniques® is applied by hand using a very specific pressure and tension on the muscle involved while moving the muscle underneath the contact (thumb or fingers of doctor's hand). "The affected tissue is trapped while the body part is moved, taking the tissue from its shortened to elongated position. Relative motion between tissues is introduced in order to restore glideing between those tissues" (Leahy). This method softens and stretches the scar tissue, resulting in increased range of motion, increased strength, and improved circulation which optimizes healing.

The treatments are combined with proper stretching and strengthening of the involved tissues. Proper body posture, ergonomic instruction, and corrective exercises are also imperitive for optimal results.

For more information on ART®, see the Active Release.

Graston Technique®

"Graston Technique® is an advanced form of myofascial release. Soft-tissue dysfunction, which includes scar tissue, adhesions and restrictions, results in pain, weakness and functional limitation for the patient. Graston Technique® uses patented stainless steel instruments, which are contoured to complement the body's shapes and curves.... The instruments are designed to facilitate a clinician's hands, not replace them."

"The Graston Technique® was inspired when a tool and die maker sustained a knee injury during a waterskiing accident. Three ligaments were ruptured, requiring extensive surgical repair. The resultant scar tissue caused unresolvable range of motion limitations and strength deficits preventing full rehabilitation.... Through research, as well as treating hundreds of clients, the Graston Technique was developed as an effective rehabilitation program for a wide variety of diagnoses. It is important to understand that the Graston Technique® is only one part of the total therapy program. It is not meant to be used alone, but to be used as a component of an overall treatment program."

"The Graston Instruments, much like a tuning fork, resonate in the clinician’s hands allowing the clinician to isolate adhesions and restrictions, and precisely treat them. When explaining the properties of the instruments, we often use the analogy of a stethoscope. For, just as a stethoscope amplifies that can be heard by the human ear, so do the instruments increase significantly the information which can be detected by the human hands."

"The Graston Instruments, while enhancing the clinician’s ability to detect fascial adhesions and restrictions, have been clinically proven to achieve quicker and better outcomes in treating both acute and chronic conditions." Graston Technique is being used by more than 35 professional and amateur sports organizations. It is used by the New England Patriots, winners of the 2004 and 2005 Superbowls. In addition, Graston Technique® is being taught at four colleges, including Indiana University, where it is part of the graduate kinesiology course curriculum for athletic trainers.

For more information on Graston Technique®, see the Graston Technique.

For treatment of rotator cuff injuries in the national capital area (Maryland, D.C., northern Virginia) see:
Capital Sports Injury Center