What’s the Difference Between Active Release Techniques and Deep Tissue Massage?

Oakland sports chiropractor Dr. Sandy Baird does chiropractic treatment with Active Release TechniquesUpon initial observation, it may not look like there is much of a difference between a chiropractic treatment using Active Release Techniques and one using deep tissue massage.  Let’s dive a bit deeper and find out what makes them different.  A deep tissue massage is generally only focused on one area of the body, as opposed to a Swedish massage which allots time for all the different areas of the body.  By working on one area at a time, the massage therapist or sports chiropractor can comprehensively address all the unique muscles and ligaments that are causing pain or dysfunction in that area.

For example, if a person is suffering from Tennis Elbow, the wrist extensor muscles, the supinator, the anconeus, and the brachioradialis are usually involved.  These structures have become overused (over-loaded) and are now suffering from decreased circulation and inflammation, and if the injury has been going on for awhile, those structures have become littered with adhesions.  Deep tissue massage can help restore circulation and decrease inflammation to the elbow area.  It can also help decrease the amount of adhesion in the muscles.

Active Release Techniques (ART) will do all of the above, and it will also restore functional motion.  What this means, is that it will clear out adhesions through an entire range of movement.  ART protocols will typically require the sports chiropractor to shorten the involved muscle, take a thumb or hand contact with a specific direction of tension, and then maintain that tension while the client lengthens out the muscle.  This breaks up the adhesions and allows for the restoration of full functional movement.

Both deep tissue massage and Active Release Techniques are effective at treating many common sports injuries and overuse injuries such as carpal tunnel, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, and hip and knee pain.  Ask your Oakland sports chiropractor if you have any questions about which would be most beneficial for your particular condition.

We can be reached at (510) 465-2342.

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