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Active Release Technique (ART)


What is ART?

Essentially ART is a means of manipulating soft tissue to restore its integrity after muscles have been shortened or weakened (or where there’s a build up of scar tissue) due to overuse. By doing this it can free up nerves that have been compressed, relieve pain and increase mobility, sometimes almost immediately, as well as improve poor biomechanics in the long term.

How exactly does ART work?

One thing you do need to know: you’ll be pulled about a bit! Fibrous adhesions (let’s just call them knotted bits of muscle) don’t go away without a little force and movement.

To treat a muscle with ART, the muscle is shortened and a manual tension is applied to the muscle by a therapist’s fingers. The muscle is then actively lengthened by the person being treated, while the tension on the muscle is held in place. The treatment hurts a bit, although most patients describe it as a ‘good hurt’. It feels like a stretch that you need, but can’t do yourself. When a muscle is tight, the technique works by increasing the nervous system’s tolerance to stretch the muscle.

One of the best bits of ART is that there seems to be a specific ‘protocol’ for every piece of anatomy, whether it’s muscle, nerve or ligament. It can also be used very effectively in conjunction with other various nerve, muscle and fascial-related techniques. Just because you’re seeking ART treatment, doesn’t mean you can’t have chiropractic treatment for example. It’s just that it might help reduce symptoms faster.

When was ART invented / developed?

This isn’t some kind of ancient teaching that has been passed down through generations - Active Release Techniques were developed in the 1980s by a chiropractor in Colorado called Mike Leahy. In fact, it’s mostly chiropractors who advocate it, adding it to their repertoire of skills, many insisting that it’s one of the quickest ways to get things moving smoothly again. Though there are some doubters who suggest the evidence of ART’s magic is slim, the increased recognition speaks volumes. Almost every professional sports team in North America uses ART before and after competitions. Training in ART only became available in Europe in 2009, though it’s now routinely used by medical staff at Everton and Tottenham Hotspur football clubs, and professional cycling and athletics teams in the UK.

What can you expect during an ART session?

Does it hurt? Well, that obviously depends on your pain threshold. The general consensus with ART is that it is a similar level of discomfort, at points, to that of a deep tissue massage. CrossFitters tend to be fairly tough about enduring short periods of soreness for long-term gain though, so we think you’ll survive. What’s more, you can always tell the practitioner to reduce or increase the pressure and they can react immediately.

Injuries that respond well to ART

There are some issues for which ART is particularly effective. These include, but aren’t confined to:

  • Chronic muscle tightness: ART can quickly loosen most muscle tightness. It is the equivalent of stretching every day for two months
  • Spinal problems: ART provides a quick relief for a stiff neck or back.
  • Tightness in the extremities: tight hip muscles or ankle ligaments can be helped by treating with ART.
  • Overtrained muscles/ tendons: shoulder impingements or rotator cuff injuries, hamstring pulls, Achilles’ problems and pain under the foot.
  • Repetitive strain injuries: tennis elbow, shin splints and De Quervain’s tenosynovitis can improve.

Dr. Stemmler is a certified ART provider.


Kristin W.

Dr. Brie is exceptional and really fills the need for chiropractic services for pregnant woman and infants. I have taken my infant son to her, as well as had adjustments myself while pregnant, and feel safe knowing that we are receiving tailored chiropractic care for our needs.

Megan R.

My husband got hurt his back and work and seeing Dr. Brie was the ONLY treatment that provided him relief. After his success I decided to take my athletic son to see Dr. Brie. Since seeing him he has improved greatly and is feeling fantastic. Naturally I decided it was my turn to give treatment I try. I saw Dr. Chad who provided me so much relief to my aching back muscles from every day use and lifting a little one constantly. It was easy to get an appointment and Heather at the front desk is friendly and easy to schedule with. I HIGHLY recommend Dr. Brie and Dr. Chad whether it be for an injury or just wellness care. I promise you will not be disappointed!!!!

Danielle M.

I love Live Well! I had a headache everyday before I met Dr. Brie! I love their new location it’s homey yet professional, a nice environment. Not that I have children but, it is nice they have a child’s room for them to play. Dr. Brie truly cares about her patients and you’ll see her behind the counter scheduling and taking payments, it’s a true team effort there! I have never had any issues and really feel like more than “just a patient”. I recommend to any and everyone!

Kate E.

I started seeing Dr. Brie for preventive chiropractic care several years ago. I met her at my office when she came in as part of a staff wellness day and she was kind enough to gently point out how much I needed her help (aka, how crooked and tight I was through my neck and spine). Though skeptical, I committed to a full evaluation, and I have been going regularly ever since. Dr. Brie has helped me tremendously with neck pain after a minor car accident, as well as my chronic low back pain. I can't thank her enough! Dr. Brie and Dr. Chad are both wonderful people and practitioners. They are always smiling, professional, and happy to help. I highly recommend them both and will continue to trust them with my care!

Kaitlyn C.

Dr. Brie came highly recommended by my prenatal providers at the beginning of my pregnancy and I saw her every week from 10 weeks on. This was my second pregnancy and without a doubt, the chiropractic care made a huge difference this time around. I was more comfortable, slept better, and overall felt healthier. I would also bring my 2 year old to all my appointments and I love how family friendly Dr. Brie and the whole staff is. They do such an amazing job at taking care of the whole family! When my daughter was born, she had a pretty rough colicky period. I started taking her for biweekly adjustments because she was literally a different baby after seeing Dr. Brie. Even other family members noticed the difference in her demeanor. I can't say enough about this practice. It's been a great experience and I love having chiro as apart of my regular health care!

Kelly S.

A great friend referred us to Dr. Chad. I was skeptical of taking my 15 year old son to a Chiropractor for knee issues, however he was facing sitting out the main season of Lacrosse (after being sidelined for the fall season) which would have been devastating to him. Dr. Chad does active release therapy and within a couple of sessions the pain was gone and he was running again!! This after 3 years of physical therapy, topical steroid treatments, rest periods, and a lot of missed opportunities. We've referred other young athletes to him and he has "fixed" them as well! I have become an unofficial spokesperson for Live Well - I can't recommend them enough!!!!

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