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Heal Running Injuries With Active Release Technique

The NYC Marathon is right around the corner. Runners! You just finished your longest training run last weekend. As you push your body to the limit with high mileage and fatigue, injuries new and old come to the surface, rearing their ugly head. Our Urban Wellness Clinic team see lots of runners, amateur and experienced, limping into the office. Many runners are looking for a quick fix to be able to run the race, and post race seek out a place to soothe their aching muscles.

At Urban Wellness Clinic, Active Release Technique (ART) is an essential piece of the puzzle in discovering the source of muscle tension and pain brought on by overuse injuries. We believe ART is most effective when used with a thorough evaluation, which involves a series of muscle tests to uncover hidden compensations and a solid diagnosis. Active Release Technique is the gold standard and most effective soft tissue release, as it helps break up scar tissue and release tight muscles. It is the key to relieving those aches and pains and getting you back in top running form.

ART runners

I personally discovered ART as a runner training for half marathons and olympic triathlons living in Portland, Oregon. I desperately needed help recovering from a nagging knee injury and an old ankle sprain.  ART was mind-blowing in its effectiveness as I healed in short period of time. The industry standard of months and months of treatment were over, simply 4 sessions got me back to running.

How does Active Release Technique work? ART is based on the theory that, over time, scar tissue forms within muscles, fascia, and connective tissue due to overuse. These adhesions trap nerves and muscles, causing pain, weakness, and lack of mobility. ART restores blood flow to oxygen deprived muscles and breaks up scar tissue. The result? Old aches and pains disappear as your muscles continue to relax for a few days after treatment.   


ART is often lumped into the same category as a deep tissue massage, Graston Technique or Rolfing, but there are significant differences that make Active Release Technique the more effective therapy:

1. Deep tissue massage is a passive massage where the patient lays down while intense deep pressure is applied to the muscles. Sometimes, deep tissue massage can go too deep, causing residual pain or a practitioner may massage what feels like a tight muscle but are actually superficial nerves. Massaging a nerve at the surface hurts and can cause headaches and peripheral nerve pain.

How is ART different? ART providers have gone through rigorous training that goes beyond anatomy basics. ART employs a lighter touch than deep tissue massage and focuses on breaking up binding scar tissue and potential trapped nerves through targeted and informed assessment.

2. Rolfing educates the body to have better alignment within gravity by using a whole body approach under gravity. It removes adhesions along fascial lines with a 10 session recipe of aggressive, lotion-free massage. Rolfing sessions can last from 1.5-2 hours. The practice is based on the belief that fascial adhesions are located all over, and therefore applies a broader approach.

How is ART different? ART is more efficient, targeting specific problem areas and explores along fascial lines for tension. In other words, ART pinpoints the exact location of the problem, in turn getting a clear diagnosis.

Graston Technique

3. Graston technique utilizes metal instruments (similar to Chinese medicine Gua Sha tools) to break down scar tissue and stretch muscle fibers and connective tissue.

How is ART different? Graston is effective but also aggressive causing bruising and days of soreness. We find that Graston is effective for ligaments and tendons that need releasing whereas ART is better for adhesions between muscles and amazing for releasing trapped nerves.


Anyone can benefit from Active Release Technique. Whether you are suffering from an injury, nerve entrapment, surgical scar, lower back pain, tight muscles or compressed nerves, ART can help identify the cause of your pain and teach your body to heal itself.

Our team is here to help you get back on your feet so you can enjoy all the fun that Fall has to offer, without being held back by injuries or strain. Learn more about the Active Release Technique and find out how it can help PR  your next race, we’d love to hear from you! Fill out this contact form and we’ll be in touch soon to answer all of your questions!  

Best in Health,

Urban Wellness Clinic Team