active release technique and shoulder pain

“You stand out in the crowd only because you have these many, many carrying you on their shoulders.” – Desmond Tutu

A healthy body means a pain-free body and one that will provide you with the ability to engage in activities without unreasonable hindrances. Unfortunately, too many of us are constrained by various types of chronic pain.

And shoulder pain is one of the most common.

Shoulder pain can be the result of stress, posture, illness, or even injuries. And the keys to freedom from the pain are proper treatment, commitment to consistency, and patience.

Along with your commitment to these key requirements, it’s possible to achieve shoulder pain relief with specific therapy treatment. Pain and Performance Solutions can provide the help you need for relief from chronic shoulder pain using Active Release Technique®.

What Is Active Release Technique® (ART®)?

Unlike the traditional physical therapy approaches used by most practitioners, Active Release Technique®, or ART®, is an unique soft-tissue management system originally developed by Dr. P. Michael Leahy. He documented his first work in 1985 under the title of Myofascial Release, and eventually patented it under the name Active Release Techniques.

Dr. Leahy was working with elite athletes as a way to treat soft tissue disorders so they could get back to peak performance as quickly as possible. He had noticed that the symptoms of his patients were related to changes in their soft tissues. Eventually, Dr. Leahy developed a technique that focused completely around the real origin of a patient’s symptoms.

ART® is arguably the most advanced and effective form of myofascial release ever created. In fact, it’s one of the most well-known techniques among chiropractors, physical therapists, and other practitioners of bodywork. ART® primarily works by breaking up adhesions and other unhealthy tissues that can occur in your body.

These conditions happen when muscles are repeatedly put under an unusual amount of stress, such as sitting at a desk or typing at a keyboard all day. In response to the stress and repetitive motions, the body attempts to reinforce those muscles by increasing tension and building up layers of collagen fibers.

Although the increased tension and additional collagen fibers can help the body adapt to the specific stress it is being exposed to, these adaptations may occur in places that then prevent proper tissue movement.

The various conditions that can be treated with Active Release Technique® include:

These are just a few of the many conditions, along with chronic shoulder pain, that can be quickly and permanently resolved with ART®. In addition, they all have one other important thing in common and that is that they’re often caused by overused muscles.

Overused muscles and other soft tissues can be damaged in three important ways:

  • Acute conditions such as pulls, tears, collisions, etc.
  • Accumulation of small tears or micro-trauma
  • Lack of oxygen, known as hypoxia

All of these can cause your body to produce dense scar tissue in the affected area. This scar tissue binds up and restricts the tissues that need to move freely. And as scar tissue builds up, the muscles become shorter and weaker, tension on tendons causes tendonitis, and nerves can become trapped. The end result is a reduced range of motion, loss of strength, and pain.

Applying ART® to Chronic Shoulder Pain

Shoulders are exceptionally strong structures and are used (and abused) continuously. Because of the demands placed on the shoulder muscles, they are also highly susceptible to injury or strain. This can be sudden and traumatic due to an accident, or a gradual condition caused by repeated or sustained movement. It can even result from poor posture or improper lifting techniques at work.

Ultimately, any unnatural stress on the muscles and tendons can lead to either acute shoulder pain or chronic shoulder pain. The pain can also involve the soft tissue, joints, and discs in the nearby cervical region.

Chronic shoulder pain can also impair the function and mobility of the arms and hands. Shoulder pain can be as relatively minor as uncomfortable stiffness or a dull ache, to the debilitating pain of a shoulder sprain, damaged rotator cuff, and pinched cervical nerves that pass through the shoulder structure.

While it is true that some types of shoulder pain may resolve itself over time, more severe and chronic shoulder pain can be treated by employing Active Release Technique® to provide an accurate diagnosis that can lead to a full recovery.

As the ART® website explains,

“Every ART® session is actually a combination of examination and treatment. The ART® provider 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 with very specific patient movements.”

How Active Release Technique® is Used

There are specific techniques used with ART®  that are applied to meet a patient’s unique needs. Using Active Release Technique®, therapists are able to pinpoint treatment to individual small muscles of the shoulder and treat them through their full range of motion.

This is done by maintaining tension on the muscle during movement, as it slides out from under the therapist’s fingers. It’s important to know that the treatment does hurt a bit and can feel like getting stretched in a place that needs it, but that you can’t do yourself.

It is common to immediately feel some degree of soreness in the area of the body that was treated. While the soreness is normal, it does not always occur and it may take a few hours or even until the next day before you feel soreness.

If you have a low pain threshold, you may find a treatment session to be a bit uncomfortable. However, an ART® treatment can work in as few as one or two sessions for some, though most people may need more than one.

The technique works by increasing the nervous system’s tolerance to stretch tight muscles and is used on-site by hundreds of corporations to treat repetitive strain injuries, as well as thousands of clinics around the world.

Pain and Performance Solutions, ART® and Shoulder Pain Relief

For chronic shoulder pain, as with any injury, the first step in recovery is allowing us to get to know you and your pain issues. Once you make your first appointment, we’ll want to learn about your present discomfort as well as any history of discomfort.

After a full examination, we can determine which form of treatment is needed to help you on your road to recovery. As our bodies start to compensate for pain, this can allow you to move on with your day. However, your body can also shift that pain around to compensate for your discomfort and this can lead to other forms of pain.

Getting shoulder pain relief with ART® can only begin when we can understand where your pain started. That could mean it started a while back with another injury you might have sustained.

Your trust in us is key, as is your honesty. Ultimately, getting your body working properly and healthy is the only way to achieve total recovery. So, don’t hesitate to reach out. We are here to help and will answer any, and all questions that you may have.

You can reach us at (707) 636-4404 or by filling out our online contact form.