Home The Book Dr Articles Products Message Boards Journal Articles Search Our Surveys Surgery ESWT Dr Messages Find Good Drs video

Active Release Therapy

Posted by Dorothy on 8/24/03 at 02:20 (127796)

Most recently, Hillary wrote about this treatment technique, and searching through the message board posts of the past, others have written about this technique. I did a 'google' search of 'active release therapy' and found a number of intriguing sites - including one that showed a post from Ruth in 1998 on heelspurs.com! In any case, it appears that this therapy might be worth knowing a lot more about. The biggest drawback seems to be that there is not a trained ART therapist in every town. In addition to Hillary, can others here who have tried this ART technique comment on it?? I would also like to hear a detailed description of what is done - many of those who commented (on the web search info.) said that it was painful but then it helped. I would also like to know if this is something that one can learn and do some self-treating??

Re: Active Release Therapy

Sharon W on 8/24/03 at 11:29 (127815)

Dorothy,

I never tried ART because it is not available anywhere near where I live. I do recall that Donna SL swore by it and credited it as the most important factor in her recovery from TTS. (She has, I believe, moved to England and I haven't seen a post from her in almost a year...) I believe Carmen also gave ART a try, and WASN'T helped by it -- but she has stopped posting, too. So my take on it, is that ART does appear to be The Solution for some people, and (even though it typically is NOT covered by insurance) ART may be worth trying if it is available in your vicinity -- but like every other treatment out there for these foot/ankle problems, it unfortunately doesn't work for everyone.

Sharon
.

Re: Active Release Therapy

Dorothy on 8/24/03 at 17:22 (127856)

Sharon ~ You are such a good researcher here that I wonder if you have done a search on ART.. I did two entries: one for 'active release therapy' and the other for 'active release therapy practitioners' and I also followed the link to activereleasetechnique.com. It's pretty intriguing when one begins reading all the comments about it. I did read that it is very much like myofascial massage techniques and also Rolfing -but the ART people say it is has several key differences that make it enough different from those techniques as to be unique and more effective.
I don't know, but I am looking...

Re: Active Release Therapy

Sharon W on 8/24/03 at 18:46 (127864)

Dorothy,

I have searched the messages (although not recently) and visited the ART website. I even brought some info from the ART website to my PT to see if she might be interested in learning the techniques (but she said their classes are way too expensive).

If you do choose to give ART a try, I wish you all the best of luck. I am not against ANYTHING that stands a chance of helping people become cured, especially when it involes little or no risk of making the problem worse!

Sharon
%%-

Re: Active Release Therapy

Dorothy on 8/24/03 at 23:44 (127877)

Thanks, Sharon. I WOULD try it, but there is no practitioner very near. I am looking for one within reasonable distance still, so maybe I will get to try it. I can understand that the training might be expensive - their website sells a set of training videos - for about $1,000!

Re: Active Release Therapy

john h on 8/25/03 at 09:00 (127895)

I know little about ART but it sounds like some vigorous massage of the feet is involved. About 3 or 4 years ago I went to a lady who specialized in foot massage/thearapy. She advised me it would be painful. She began her massage technique and had me hold up the number of fingers to indicate my pain level. The more pain in her method the better the results. I spent about 30 minutes at or near a pain level of 8-10. It was terrible I was more of wuss than Judy was when she had ESWT. Anyway, for the next month or more my feet were terrible and what ever the name of her procedure was it caused me nothing but pain. Further, if you suspect you have Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome you need to be very careful as my Orthopedic Doc advised as vigorous massage of the feet with this condition can do some serious damaage.

Re: Active Release Therapy

HIlaryG on 8/25/03 at 13:25 (127915)

To JohnH- ART is definitely not the same as vigorous foot massage. If you haven't already, please look at the website drabelson.com. And yes ART is painful when administered and a for a day or so after. But after that I feel better than I have in 20 yrs. The pain iexperienced with ART is definitely better than living with PF, because with ART the pain ends eventually; with PF it was endless. I feel that ART gave me back my life. I thank the chiro every time I see him. He is my definition of a 'healer', Like i've said befor, I just want to see more people try something that I know works, because I know what living with PF is like. And it was no life for me. Hilary

Re: Active Release Therapy

HIlaryG on 8/25/03 at 13:34 (127921)

I felt strongly, but I didn't mean to post my message so many times. Sorry

Re: Active Release Therapy

Sharon W on 8/25/03 at 15:11 (127934)

The ART website has a 'find a practicioner' function that you can use to find out who is the one nearest you.

Sharon
.

Re: Active Release Therapy

Kristie R. on 8/25/03 at 16:55 (127950)

Who did you see for this wonderful treatment?

Re: Active Release Therapy

Ed Davis,DPM on 8/25/03 at 21:20 (127991)

Hilary:

I have read both Dr. Abelson's site and the prior site written by Dr. Leahy but simply am not finding any discussion of exactly what this technique is or does. Based on the very limited description it appears to be a form of deep tissue massage, even so it claims not to be.

Dr. Abelson's site includes a list of conditions which can be treated via this technique. One of the conditions listed is 'bunions.' Bunion or hallux abductovalgus deformity is a joint deformity of the big toe joint.
It is hard to imagine how what appears to be external pressure applied can effect a change in such a problem.

I think it is great that you have been helped by this technique but have to wonder why it is not more widespread, published in any journals and why the aformentioned websites provide so little information about the technique.
Ed

Re: Active Release Therapy

Dorothy on 8/26/03 at 02:19 (128013)

I think the concerns you raise are completely reasonable and appropriate. I will continue to keep my eyes and ears tuned for further information.

Re: Active Release Therapy

Dorothy on 8/26/03 at 02:20 (128014)

I hope Hilary will answer your question. If I recall correctly, she is in Canada.

Re: Active Release Therapy/Dr. Ed

john h on 8/26/03 at 10:41 (128037)

Dr. Ed: I cannot imagine ART being appropriate for Hallux Limitus or a Bunion. Hallux Limitus as you know is a joint problem involving bone and spurs. No amount of manipulation is going to help these conditions, In fact I would think with Hallux Limitus (I have it on both toes) it would be totally inappropriate and extremely painful if they tried to bend the hallux. I do have a question on Hallux Limitus. Does this condition continue to get worse with time? If it does then the longer you put of a cheilectomy the more likely you are to have to deal with a fusion at some point. Is this right or wrong?

Re: Active Release Therapy

HilaryG on 8/26/03 at 13:04 (128049)

I Saw Dr.Mark Colligan in Saugerties, NY

Re: Active Release Therapy

HilaryG on 8/26/03 at 13:11 (128051)

Dr.Ed- Hve you looked at the website drabelson.com?? I like it better than the activerelease website. Also, I think the results are what's important, not the studies. Hilary

Re: Active Release Therapy

Aly on 8/26/03 at 13:48 (128054)

Hi guys,

I'm also looking into this A.R.T. thing - I found a site that explains with a little more detail what exactly they do... http://www.youcanbefit.com/art.html Hope that adds a little more info to what you've learned so far.

I'm going to price the treatments in my area & see if / when I can afford to go. The feets are starting to drain my wallet, as I'm sure all of you can relate to! :)

Aly

Re: Active Release Therapy/Dr. Ed

Ed Davis,DPM on 8/26/03 at 14:06 (128056)

John:

In the earlier stages of hallux limitus/rigidus, we are trying to promote increased ROM and a cheilectomy is a surgical means of doing so. In the latter stages where there is a substantial loss of cartilage, attempts to move the joint just causes pain. It is probably a good idea to keep the joint moving as much as possible in the earlier stages so not waiting too long for a cheilectomy is a good idea.

Some have a very simplistic surgical approach -- cheilectomy or fusion.
There are a lot more options, depending on the stage of hallux limitus/rigidus:

Stage 1: increase ROM via orthotics and PT and possible cheilectomy in late stage 1

Stage 2: cheilectomy to re-establish ROM, then preserve ROM with orthotics, PT (keep in mind that orthotics can be designed to increase or decrease first MTP joint ROM)

Stage 3: osteotomy to reposition cartilage in joint and possible hemi-joint implant-- implant needed if cartilage is in bad shape (we don't want to induce motion if that motion would cause pain)

Stage 4: Fusion or total joint implant. Having a big toe joint that moves properly and painlessly is better than a stiff one that changes gait so I would usually go with the implant and save fusions for rare occasions.
Ed

Stage 4:

Re: Active Release Therapy

Ed Davis,DPM on 8/26/03 at 14:09 (128057)

Hilary:
I have looked at both. There are doctor testimonials as to how much they like the technique but little else. When one does a search for 'active release technique' multiple doctor websites come up that were designed by the promoter but nothing beyond that.
Ed

Re: Active Release Therapy

HilaryG on 8/26/03 at 14:15 (128059)

Weel, the important thing is that ART helped both my partner and me. I just don't want to see others suffer. I have nothing to gain from ecouraging people to pursue this type of treatment. Hilary

Re: Active Release Therapy

Dorothy on 8/26/03 at 15:05 (128073)

HilaryG. ~
And I appreciate the 'lead' to something that might be helpful. I am continuing to look into it. I much prefer the feeling of joyful anticipatory hopefulness that comes from reading of someone being 'cured' than the feeling of doubt and skepticism - but the latter guides good scientific evaluation - and then clinical usefulness. I don't want to be in the 'nothing will ever work..I've tried it all' camp, but I like solid supporting information that isn't tied solely to a proprietary, profit-making enterprise. I don't mean you - I think it is wonderful reading about your and your partner's good results - and I have found the testimonials on the websites to be also delightful. I remember reading someone's comment here not too long ago about their being skeptical of anything that says 'miracle' in its name, and with people here having tried so many 'miracles' and 'cures', maybe there is a natural and understandable skepticism learned from experience.
Beyond that though, there are very good reasons for wanting to see legitimate data and studies on any technique or product that purports
to 'cure' or be successful at a 90% rate.
So, while I enjoy the anecdotal and very encouraging testimonials, I also share Dr. Ed's need for supporting data. I was very glad to know that he would take the time to follow up on the websites you cited and comment here.
Through it all, I'm keeping my mind open and my fingers crossed.

Re: Active Release Therapy

john h on 8/26/03 at 17:19 (128084)

Dorthy: your post is well taken. Having to deal with this for 8 years I certainly am not looking for or believe there is a 'miracle' cure for PF. It has become obvious from all the post over the years that what works for one person may cause much pain for another. I just look for some steady progress over the long run. I am much better now than I was 8 years ago but in between there have been periods where i took a number of steps backwards. I am also skeptical of 'miracle cures'.PF is really hard to quantify as it is a disease that we measure primarily by pain level and some people just get well without knowing why. Good data is hard to come by with PF. Probably the best data I have ever seen comes right from this board where I here from real people with real results and failures. If I had not have found this board I might well have had PF surgeries through a scope by now and who knows what results I might have faced.

Re: a reasonable middle ground for evaluating evidence

Ed Davis,DPM on 8/26/03 at 17:48 (128088)

John:

We have a full spectrum of 'evaluators' of the evidence for treatment efficacy on the boards. At one end, there are those who will accept nothing less than double blind studies published in a peer reviewed journal. Others seemingly jump at anecdotal evidence. I feel that there is definitely a middle ground that is reasonable.

As a practitioner who is in contact with hundreds, if not thousands of patients and in contact with other doctors who are in contact with hundreds of patients, I place a lot of emphasis on the collective experiences of myself and my colleagues. When it comes to ESWT the numbers are higher in the 'experiential' subset than the journal/published group.

When introducing something new, it helps to have a thorough explanation of the concept but some feedback based on the experiences of groups of practitioners. Without that bare minimum, it is difficult to formulate an informed opinion.
Ed

Re: Active Release Therapy

Dr. Z on 8/26/03 at 18:47 (128094)

What maybe interesting about ART is its ability to increase range of motion at the ankle joint. Any reduction with equinus is going to help pf healing

Re: I GET ACTIVE RELEASE TECHNIQUE THERAPY!

celiac on 8/28/03 at 12:37 (128282)

I've been seeing my chiropractor for nearly a year now and he's been helping me out tremendously. I could barely stand in my kitchen to make dinner. Now, I CAN RUN AGAIN!! I've had PF for five years now and have tried every little foot therapy toy you can imagine. I didn't expect ART to immediately take care of the problem. It takes time. Just as long as I've had it, I think that a year is good for healing time. I'm still going and it's worth $50 a visit. I went from seeing him twice a week, to once every three weeks to now once a month! I've even seen all types of specialists and doctors. The only who has been able to help me, BY FAR, is my chiropractor. I'm able to do a lot of things I haven't done in such a long time. I highly recommend one who's certified through Active Release Board because mine is.

It is a painful therapy everytime I see him, but I've noticed now that he can go in deeper. Oh, and he DOES push into my arches and deeply rubs through the little rocks you feel on the arch. I do scream, but it works! I can handle ten minutes of pain for a more comfortable lifestyle!

Please feel free to ask me questions.

The procedures consists of applying pressure to a nodule while I flex. He starts to break all the bumps and knots that are attached to my muscles, allowing the muscle to loosen up. He works on my legs when he does this and he works all the way down to my feet. I wish I could attach this on video, but I'm too dumb when it comes to computer stuff.

Re: a reasonable middle ground for evaluating evidence

JudyS on 8/28/03 at 12:53 (128286)

Re: ART - I know that I mentioned this last week but it seems worth repeating -
The acronym 'ART' may be excluse to it's developers, but the style of treatment is not exclusive to ART personnel.
That kind of deep-tissue manipulation (I read the descriptions on the various ART sites) is exactly what I received from my physical therapist two years ago. I knew it to be ART at the time. As a PT he was considered on the 'cutting edge' of that kind of treatment.
Later, my chiropractor also did it but not as aggressively.

It hurt and I would recommend not having it done more than twice a week but I can honestly say that, once the immediate soreness wore off (within 6-8 hours, I would actually have at least one nearly PF/pain-free day. I was amazed.

My point being that the style of treatment is not exclusive to ART practioners so you may or may not find PT's or Chiropractors who do it also.

Re: I GET ACTIVE RELEASE TECHNIQUE THERAPY!

Dorothy on 8/28/03 at 15:17 (128307)

Thank you, Celiac, for the feedback and description. It is good to hear of your good experience, in spite of its being a painful therapy. The ART practitioners reportedly are certified in different levels and body areas. Did you take any of that into consideration or did you just happen upon your dr. or what?

Re: I GET ACTIVE RELEASE TECHNIQUE THERAPY!

HilaryG on 8/28/03 at 17:56 (128317)

Hi Dorothy- I know you were asking the question to Celia, but I just thought I'd mention that I think it's important that the ART practitioner be certified in Lower Extremity, so he will know about feet and foot problems. you can see this designation on the ART website. I hope you try ART and are as happy with it as I am. It gave me back my life. Hilary