Active Release Therapy

Start Feeling Better In As Few As 3 Visits.

What is Active Release Therapy?

what is active release therapy

Releasing restricted soft tissues in the body can reduce pain and improve your overall quality of life. Active Release Therapy (ART) can eliminate muscle pain and facilitate the activation of muscles that have been lagging behind because of injury.

Active Release Technique was first used on elite athletes and since then been used to help millions of people relieve tight muscles and nerve points, greatly reducing muscle pains.

Here’s how it works. ART works by breaking up dense collections of scar tissue and adhesions that form when muscles and connective tissues are injured.

Adhesions are a normal response from your body to heal itself after surgery, inflammation, or injury.

However this scar tissue is a dense fibrous material that binds two parts of tissues and organs together, limiting your mobility while causing restrictions in the soft tissues.

Sometimes scar tissues can entrap nerves causing the incredibly painful condition known as pinched nerves.

Active Release Therapy uses a special technique to break up these scar tissues around your muscles, joints, and nerves allowing you to move freely again without pain or stiffness.

Signs you may have scar tissue:

The following are signs that you may have scar tissue in your joints:

Reduced range of motion

“Creaky” sounds or sensations

Inflammation in your joint (eg. swelling, redness, warmth)

Stiffness in any of your joints (neck, elbows, hands, back, or knees)

Numbness, tingling, or pain in your fingers or toes

The Ultimate Guide to Active Release Therapy

Start Feeling Better In As Few As 3 Visits

Overcome Your Back Pain, Neck Pain, Shoulder Pain & More.

Tell us what hurts, and we will treat your pain in the shortest time possible. Get effective treatment for your condition in less than 30 minutes so you can get back to doing what you live… pain-free.

Personalized Therapy Plan

Get a personalized care plan so you can feel better in as few as 3 visits. We use advanced therapy techniques proven to ease pain, accelerate recovery, improve mobility and overall health. Expert Therapists

Caring Therapists

Our team of licensed physiotherapists, chiropractors, registered massage therapists are professionals and in human anatomy and biomechanics. You will get the perfect care plan to target the root of your pain so you can get back to doing what you love, everyday! 

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This appointment is your opportunity to tell us what hurts and discover whether Active Release Therapy is a good fit for you! During this session, you will talk with a therapist on a phone call (or online) and create the right care plan specifically for your pain. There is no obligation, this session is only to find out if Active Release Therapy can help you getting back to doing the things you love in life.

About PainHero

If you’re like most you don’t want to wait days or weeks to get treated for your pain. And you don’t want to have to spend your time calling nearby clinics to find the one who can see you the fastest.

That’s where PainHero comes In – Canada’s largest network of physiotherapists, chiropractors, and registered massage therapists. 

Our Platform is used by clinics where they post their open appointment times. So you can quickly compare availability and wait times for clinics near you without having to pick up the phone. Then book an appointment within seconds and even see someone that day if you want. So you can get back to doing the things you love faster.

Plus unlike other sites who let anyone on or just rely on google reviews. We hand pick clinics based on a 50-point inspection, which includes everything from checking reviews, ratings, reputation, history, complaints, satisfaction, trust, cost, and general excellence.

Why PainHero?

Improve the way your body moves so you can continue to do the things you love. PainHero is Canada’s largest network of physiotherapists, chiropractors, and registered massage therapists. Our mission is to make it easy for you to find the top clinics in your community. We handpick the top clinics using our 50 point inspection based on patient reviews, complaints, and patient outcomes. 

Whether you’re seeking pain relief or preventative care, you can expect our patient-centric approach to be new and different from any healthcare experience you’ve had before. Perhaps even life-changing.  




Caring Therapists


Patient Visits

The Ultimate Guide to Active Release Therapy

Benefits of Active Release Therapy

benefits of active release therapy

1.) Increases Flexibility

Reducing scar tissue around the muscles and joints increases flexibility. This includes very tight areas for adults like the legs and hamstrings.

In fact, in 2006 there was a study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics on 20 physically active males. The study found that just one ART treatment increased hamstring flexibility.

2.) Reduces Chronic Lower Back Pain

In 2013 a study was conducted at the Korean Academy of Physical Therapy Rehabilitation Science on 12 patients with chronic lower back pain.

Each person received ART 2 times per week for 3 weeks.

At the end of the study, ART was proven to be effective at reducing pain in people with chronic lower back pain.

3.) Can Give Quick Pain Relief

Relief of symptoms can happen after just one session but the full benefits can take no more than 3 sessions.

4.) Relieves Chronic Neck Pain

According to the Journal of Physical Therapy Science, ART was effective at relieving chronic neck pain. The study was done on 24 patients who were admitted into hospital with chronic neck pain for 3 months or longer.

After treatment, ART reduced chronic neck pain proving to be an effective treatment for this condition.

5.) Relieves Lower Back Pain

Active Release Therapy for lower back pain has shown to be highly effective. Here’s how:

There is a muscle that runs from your spine to your hip called the psoas muscle. When you sit this muscle contracts to keep your spine aligned. However, it can become overworked through repetitive movements or from sitting too long which can lead to inflammation.

When a therapist performs active muscle release on the psoas muscle it’s known to release tension in the lower back, eliminating pain in many cases.

Check out this post from Foundation Chiropractic and Sports Therapy to learn more benefits of Active Release Therapy:

Lower back pain exercises you should try and avoid courtesy of Spine & Sports Clinic (Read the caption)

What Body Parts Can Be Treated With ART?

what body parts can be treated with art

Fascia: is a structure of connective tissue that protects and supports your muscles, blood vessels, and nerves. Scar tissue and repetitive strain can cause restriction in the fascia that responds well to ART. 

Muscle groups: ART can help with strains and pulls in a muscle. This includes the muscles in your neck, back, hamstrings, and shoulders. Chronically tight hamstrings? ART can help.

Tendons and ligaments: Tendons connect your muscle to bone allowing the muscles to move different parts of your body. Ligaments connect bone to bone. If you injure either, it can cause pain and decrease your mobility.

Watch this video to learn how to release tight pec muscles, courtesy of PhysioPlus Health Group (Read the caption)


Find out whether Active Release Therapy can help you get back to doing the things you love in life. 

Active Release Demonstration

active release demonstration

A trained Physiotherapist or Chiropractor will put you in a position so that your muscle is shortened. For example, when you bend your knee, you contract your hamstring and muscle moves into a shortened position. Then they will push down on a specific point to apply tension.

After they will ask you to try to lengthen the muscle while they’re pushing on it. For example, if they were working on your hamstring, you would straighten your leg.

Your therapist may apply a combination of motion and tension to the muscle to get it to fully release.

This technique can cause discomfort (many describe it as good pain) but after you will feel much better and move more freely.

Here are some great techniques:

Active release hamstring
Active release technique quadriceps
Active release technique rotator cuff

Check out this post from Athlete’s Care Sports Medicine Centres (Read the caption)

It depends on your condition and goals.  For the fastest results you may start with 2-3 treatments a week then wean down until you have the relief you need. Some people only need one treatment.

You may feel sore after, but that should go away within a day.

ART vs Other Soft Tissue Treatments

ART is different than massage therapy because instead of broad strokes it provides targeted pressure points to release restrictions.

ART vs Massage Therapy: most massages work by reducing muscle tension and improving circulation. This can help reduce pain temporarily however it doesn’t break up scar tissue like ART does to restore proper movement.

ART is similar to a deep tissue massage but much more targeted and customized for the patient’s specific problem.

ART vs Graston Technique: Graston works similar to ART where it breaks up fibrous scar tissue improving blood flow, mobility, and reducing pain. What makes this different is, it is performed using a handheld device that applies deep pressure to the injury in a rhythmic way, whereas ART is performed by the practitioner’s hands.

Dry Needling: Trigger points are like hard “knots” in a muscle that cause pain in the area and around it. Dry needling is where a thin needle is inserted into this “knot” to release the tight muscle reducing the pain and stiffness.

ART vs. Rolfing: To many Rolfing may feel like a very deep massage. The Rolfing practitioner not only massages the muscles where the pain is but your whole body. The goal is to help the body return to structural balance to correct imbalances that may be causing the discomfort. ART is more about re-activating muscles to better perform.

Is Active Release Treatment Right For You?

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms below, Active release treatment could be right for you.

Do you have pain when moving or exercising?

Stiffness in any body part such as the knees, back, or neck?

Weakness in any muscle?

Limited range of motion in your knee, shoulder, or back?


If so, you may benefit from ART. To see if it’s right for you, just schedule a consultation on this page with a qualified therapist.

What Is The Difference Between Active Release Technique and Massage Therapy?

There are some key differences between these two modalities.

Active release technique is a type of manual therapy that uses gentle pressure and active movement to release adhesions in the muscles and connective tissue. Massage therapy, on the other hand, uses static pressure and passive movement to release tension in the muscles.

Conditions Successfully Treated With ART

ART has shown benefits in treating these conditions below:

Latest Health Articles To Improve Self Care

Frequently Asked Questions

ART is usually included in the cost of your normal Physio or Chiropractor session.

Relief of symptoms can happen after just one session however to see the full benefits it may take no more than 3 sessions.

Some insurances cover it, you just need to check with your insurance to see if it’s covered. However, it’s typically the same cost as your normal Chiropractic or Physio Therapy session.


Active Release Therapy is one of several possible methods for relieving pain that do not rely on prescription medications and all the side effects and baggage they come with. Not to mention that most drugs can only mask pain, but rarely address root causes. Find a clinic if you are suffering from muscle tightness, soreness, or pain to improve your quality of life, today.