The art of ART

I was a high school athlete with dreams of playing college softball but I was plagued with shoulder and elbow tendinitis. I wasn’t sure I would be able to finish my season because I had so much pain. My mom had been seeing a chiropractor for a car accident which helped her. Ironically, he also worked with a lot of athletes, so she suggested seeing him.

I, like probably most of you reading, thought chiropractors only “cracked” bones. I didn’t think they could do anything beyond neck and low back pain. However, I had nothing to lose because my shoulder was going to fail me before I had a chance to play in college. I dragged my feet to go to the chiropractor but I quickly realized that my assumptions about chiropractors were wrong.

The chiropractor treating me did joint adjusting but he used a soft tissue technique called, Active Release Techniques (ART). From that point forward, my softball career and life were forever changed.

I went on to have a very successful college career and decided to become a chiropractor to help other athletes like my chiropractor did for me.

As I decided to pursue a career, I learned that chiropractors have many tools in their toolbox, beyond just adjusting – corrective exercise, acupuncture, dry needling, cupping (just to name a few). However, since ART had such a profound effect on me, I decided to become certified in the technique.

To perform ART, trigger points or areas of tissue tension are isolated within the muscles. Then the provider with shorten the muscle, contact the trigger point and then lengthen the muscle/tissue. This helps to reduce the tension and break up the scar tissue within the muscle. It is a very effective technique because it can make changes quickly.

Oftentimes, chiropractors will repetitively adjust the same area. In my professional opinion, it is because the tight tissues aren’t being addressed simultaneously. These tight tissues could be causing a joint to return to its restricted state, hence the need to continue to adjust the same area. The solution for that is to try to reduce the tightness with a soft tissue technique.

To become a full-body ART provider, you must take three, 16-hour courses. Before I graduated from chiropractic school, I was certified in all three courses. I started working with a lot of athletes and active individuals. ART is effective with the athlete because it can reduce pain and increase the range of motion very quickly. Athletes don’t like to be down with an injury too long so ART can help get them back to activity in a timely manner.

It has helped me to treat a lot of individuals. However, ART has also helped me achieve one of my career goals to work with a professional team. In 2018, I earned the opportunity to work with the Chicago Bears. Although I was considered the team chiropractor, a lot of the work I did on players was utilizing ART, rather than adjusting.

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