How heal­ing those mus­cles is an ART form

The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday - - Health & Fitness -

If you’ve got an in­jury, or just a petu­lant nig­gle, it’s of­ten tempt­ing to ig­nore it. For many of us who do seek treat­ment, the progress can be frus­trat­ing; things get no­tice­ably bet­ter, but the prob­lem never dis­ap­pears en­tirely. We learn to live with those “sore wrists”, that “tweak in the hip” or that “an­gry an­kle joint that flares up now and again”. To some ex­tent, this is fair enough – re­al­is­tic even: the body ages and heavy ex­er­cise and/or repet­i­tive strain causes in­evitable wear and tear. But I am not ready yet to ac­cept that the is­sues I’ve been hav­ing around my hips and lower back, and shoul­ders and chest, for 18 months are now just a part of me. I don’t want to feel re­stricted or a bit in­jured for ever. So I de­cided to try a hand­son soft tis­sue treat­ment called Ac­tive Re­lease Tech­niques, oth­er­wise known as ART. Just to be clear: this isn’t the art ther­apy that re­quires you to draw pic­tures of emo­tions or make mod­els of your fam­ily (though I’d gladly try that, if it promised to make me in­jury-free), rather it refers to a style of treat­ment of lig­a­ments, mus­cles, ten­dons and nerves. ART was de­vel­oped in the Eight­ies by Mike Leahy, a chi­ro­prac­tor from Colorado with an en­gi­neer­ing de­gree from the US Air Force Academy. The tech­nique only be­came avail­able in Europe in 2009, but ac­cord­ing to Ni­co­lai van der La­gen, manager of ART ed­u­ca­tion in Europe, it’s now rou­tinely used by med­i­cal staff at Ever­ton and Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur foot­ball clubs, and pro­fes­sional cy­cling and ath­let­ics teams. “To treat a mus­cle with ART, the mus­cle is short­ened and a man­ual ten­sion is ap­plied to the mus­cle by a ther­a­pist’s fin­gers,” says New­castle­based ART ex­pert, Thomas Feeney. “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,

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