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Active Release Therapy / A.R.T. Update

Posted by Aly on 9/29/03 at 12:47 (131632)

Hi everyone,

Well I said I'd update following my first appointment, so here I am!

My appointment was on Friday evening. Let me say first, for anyone who still wonders what ART is like - this really was not like a massage. It's so much deeper than that, it's more like 'pulling' on the internal structures / muscles & ligaments etc.

He started with me having my toes curled down, and used his thumbs to push deeply along my arch in one fluid motion (slow) from my heel to the base of my toes. (Note that when I say deeply - I mean DEEPLY - probably as hard as he physically could. As he did this motion, he had me flex my toes up as high as I could, maximizing the 'pull' on the fascia as he stretched it. He also did this type of movement in other directions on my foot.) He did both of my feet within about 20 or 30 minutes, I think.

The good part of my treatment is that immediately afterward my feet felt incredibly 'loose' - like all the muscles had been bound up in there and were now free. Imagine having a really tight stiff back, and getting a massage and then sitting in a jacuzzi for an hour. That's what my feet felt like and it was great. They were warm and filled with healthy circulation for hours afterward (I usually have cold feet, esp. since PF). But they were also sore! So don't think I mean to say they felt like normal feet. Just loosened up ones.

The bad part of my treatment was that it hurt like hell. Pardon my french, but it really was extremely painful. This may have been because my PF is really bad - I use a wheelchair during my spare time and can't do more than 5 minutes of walking without them freaking out. My pain is not just in the heel, but also encompasses the arch nowadays. I was also in the midst of a major flare-up, so all these things might explain why it was so painful for me compared to the others here who have discussed their ART experiences. And for all I know, the guy's a brute - I have nothing to compare him to.

My feet was very tender on Saturday, but it wasn't the same kind of pain that one has with PF - I don't know how to explain it. Despite the pain of the treatment, I am going back for my next appointment today. I'm loading up on Aleve this time, hopefully that will make it more bearable. I don't want to scare anyone off, because after all, I think most of us are desperate enough that we would go through any amount of pain to be free of this PF nightmare. I will keep you all posted, and we can find out together whether the outcome is worth it!


Re: Active Release Therapy / A.R.T. Update

AndreaR on 9/29/03 at 14:07 (131640)

Aly, did the doctor say that he thought you had PF badly? I was just wondering how severe you were compared to others he had treated. Also, did he do your calves? My doctor is also doing my calves and that is helping my feet because thoses are the muscles that support the arch. Ask your doctor to do your lower legs too.

Re: Active Release Therapy / A.R.T. Update

Aly on 9/29/03 at 14:13 (131642)

Hi Andrea,

As soon as he started my first foot, he did say that my PF was really really bad. I'm going to ask him how bad it is compared to others he treated - now I'm curious. I will also ask him about my calves - he didn't do those, but it may be that he thought I'd had enough!

He said 'next time I'll go a little deeper' - I think if he does that, he'll push his thumbs right through my feet!! ;)

How often are you going?

Re: Active Release Therapy / A.R.T. Update

AndreaR on 9/29/03 at 15:26 (131647)

I am going twice a week. I don't think my PF is too bad, but it does bother me a lot. The legs hurt much worse than the feet. He told me that eating some red meat helps make them less sensitive to the ART because it helps increase blood circulation.

Re: Active Release Therapy / A.R.T. Update

Aly on 9/29/03 at 15:37 (131649)

Interesting re the meat thing. I may just have to come out of my pseudo-vegetarianism...:) I'm going twice a week too.

I think it's good that each of us has different PF issues, for testing the ART therapy; as I recall Hilary is flat-footed, I have very high arches and both arch & heel pain, and you with your leg involvement. It's good to have a wide survey of PF-related ailments for our little trial. :)

Re: Active Release Therapy / A.R.T. Update

HilaryG on 9/29/03 at 17:36 (131659)

Aly- My feet hurt worse than ever before for the first few weeks, almost continuously. However like you said, the pain was different from my usual PF pain. I was so sore from ART treatments that I was only able to have one per week and once he made me wait tow wks because I was black and blue. But after 10 sessions I considered myself cured. And now I go only once in awhile. I don't think your guy is a brute. It's a painful treatment, but it does work. Like I've said before, ART gave me back my life-- I have less foot pain than I've had in 20 yrs. Please don't give up. If you need support you can always email me at (email removed)


Re: Active Release Therapy / A.R.T. Update

Bonnie on 9/29/03 at 19:35 (131671)

I found two ART docs in my town. How did you pick your Doc? What questions should ask? How much do yo pay. I don't think my insurance will cover it. I have PF plus tendon and nerve damage. Thanks, Bonnie

Re: Active Release Therapy / A.R.T. Update

Aly on 9/30/03 at 07:52 (131714)

Hi Bonnie,

I called each doctor and asked how long they'd been practicing, what their hours were, and how much they charged. I didn't know that my insurance covered chiropractic at the time, but I ended up picking the more expensive doctor, only b/c I found the other one to be unprofessional and off-hand in the way she dealt with me. When you talk to them, do ask about your particular insurance - they'll know whether or not they take your insurance.

Keep us all posted!


Re: Active Release Therapy / A.R.T. Update

Aly on 9/30/03 at 07:58 (131718)

Hi Hilary,

I'm so glad you posted. I was started to get just a little paranoid about my sore feet, wondering 'Is this normal? Am I hurting my feet by doing this??' Now I feel much better! :) I won't give up, I'm really willing to go through just about anything to cure my feet.

I had a second appointment yesterday, and made sure I had Alleve in my system before going. It was quite a bit more tolerable that way, I must say. Still hurt! But not so bad. The doc said I had the worst case he's ever treated, but I'm not sure how many cases he's had; he'd expected me to have fast results. I told him, it'll take a while!

I was wondering, when you say you're 'cured' - is that to say you can do absolutely everything you want, like take a step aerobics class, wear cute shoes etc. just like a 'normal person'? Or, are you pain-free but cautious (which I'd be thrilled with anyway, but I'm trying to gauge where you're at)...

Thanks again Hilary, it means a lot to hear that what I'm experiencing is normal.


Re: PS Re: Active Release Therapy / A.R.T. Update

Aly on 9/30/03 at 08:05 (131720)

I forgot to say, before insurance the doctors were charging $65 and $80 respectively (if I remember correctly...)

Re: Active Release Therapy / A.R.T. Update

HilaryG on 9/30/03 at 15:56 (131766)

Hi Aly- When I say that I'm 'cured' I am talking about my Plantar
Fasciitis. For a few months I couldn't stand for more than a few
seconds (forget about walking!!). Now I can stand for quite a long
time and I can walk more than I have in 20 yrs. But I don't think
I'll ever be able to wear cute shoes because of my flat feet (I've
been told they are severely flat). I still have a very hard time
finding comfortable shoes. However, while I previously was staying
home a lot (due to sore feet) now I can go to a Crafts Fair for
example (or even a mall) and not think about my feet.
When I get home from an ART session I ice my feet for about
20 minutes. I'm not sure if it helps with the soreness, but it
makes me feel like I'm doing something. I hope you have as much
luck as I did. Hilary

Re: Active Release Therapy / A.R.T. Update

Aly on 9/30/03 at 16:03 (131767)

Wow, to go to a *mall* - what I wouldn't do to be able to go to the MALL!! [-o< On my feet that is. Shopping from a wheelchair sucks!

My feet were ok until about an hour ago, then the pain from yesterday's treatment suddenly started in. I am dreaming of my ice packs now! I'll be doing that as soon as I go home.

Even though we have opposite foot types, it sounds like you were in the same place I am now. That gives me a lot of hope! The front of my feet are definitely feeling looser and I feel steadier on them; at moments they actually feel good. No change to the heel pain yet, but I've only had 1 session where he worked on the heels. Well, I'm keeping my fingers crossed! Thanks for keeping in touch & for all the support. :)


Re: Active Release Therapy / A.R.T. Update

HilaryG on 9/30/03 at 16:07 (131768)

Aly- Just to remind you- It took 6 or 7 treatments before I noticed an improvement. Until around that time the pain from the ART was so intense that I was not optimistic. That's why I keep encouraging you to stick it out.

Re: Active Release Therapy / A.R.T. Update

Aly on 9/30/03 at 16:26 (131769)

Thanks - I've decided not to form any opinions until I've had at least 10 treatments, since my feet are so bad and ART is so intense. I can see how it would be easy to back off of this given the pain involved in my treatments, but if it worked for you, I have to try it myself...

Re: Active Release Therapy / A.R.T. Update

Dorothy on 10/01/03 at 00:34 (131816)

How did the ART doctor determine that your PF was the worst he?she? had ever seen? Was there something in particular that he saw or felt that indicated the severity? Also, do you think that there is any way that someone could perform this on herself?

Re: Active Release Therapy / A.R.T. Update

Aly on 10/01/03 at 09:00 (131826)

Hmmm, good question. As soon as he felt the bottom of my foot in my firt appointment, he said he could tell it was really bad. If you feel in the arch of my foot, there's a firm swelling/lump along the center that I developed about 6 months ago - I don't know if that's scar tissue or ? but it never goes away. I also told him I use a wheelchair in my off-work time - maybe that influenced his comment.

While I do think in theory that a person could do this for themselves, ART providers go through training and are able to identify by touch all the different muscles inside and can tell what is muscle, what's adhesions, and (I believe) whether the muscle is 'moving correctly' unhindered by scar tissue. He can go right to my most painful spots and say 'Ah, right THERE' before I even wince. So it seems to me that you'd need a lot of knowledge, plus extraordinarily strong hands!

I also think that with such an intense treatment, I'd only want a professional doing it - if I felt pain like that at my own hand (or a friend's) I'd worry I was doing something wrong!

Re: Active Release Therapy / A.R.T. Update

Dorothy on 10/01/03 at 14:34 (131846)

Great explanation, as usual. Thanks much.