I was introduced to the chiropractic and active release technique (A.R.T.) in 1997 when I first arrived in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Michael Leahy, DC, who is the founder of A.R.T., was my first provider. Yeah, I know, that’s pretty lucky!

Somehow during the 24-hour trip, my back had tightened up to the point that my strength was greatly affected. I first visited a physical therapist who politely told me that my lifting career was over and that my back was destroyed. Now, I was a 22-year-old kid a 24-hour drive away from home in North Carolina. The only reason that I had moved to Colorado was for the Olympic Training Center and weightlifting. I was mentally destroyed. For those of you who know me, that’s not a very hard task anyway. Luckily, a friend who I had met laughed at the physical therapist’s opinion and took me to see Dr. Leahy. To make a long story short, after one visit, I was back in the gym lifting as heavy as ever.

I’m sure you’re all wondering what exactly A.R.T. is and how it works. A.R.T. is a soft tissue technique that addresses overused muscles affected in the following three ways:

  • acute conditions (pulls, tears, collisions)
  • accumulation of small tears (micro-trauma)
  • lack of oxygen (hypoxia)

Each of these factors can cause your body to produce tough, dense, scar tissue in the affected area. This scar tissue binds up and ties down tissues that need to move freely. As scar tissue builds up, muscles become shorter and weaker, the tension on tendons causes tendonitis, and nerves can become trapped. This can cause a reduced range of motion, loss of strength, and pain. If a nerve is trapped, you may also feel tingling, numbness, and weakness. This can also cause issues with your range of motion (ROM), which can greatly affect performance.

For example, if the ROM in the hips is shortened due to overuse, the power output is obviously decreased exponentially, which in turn decreases speed and vertical leap. A.R.T. simply helps to break down the scar tissue and once again lengthen the affected muscle, which releases tension on the tendons and nerves.

As a strength coach, I’ve found that strength and speed training go hand in hand with progressive sports medicine. Dr. Larry Gray in Winston-Salem, North Carolina has been a heaven sent gift for almost every national caliber lifter in the state as well as several other athletes including current NFL players, professional cyclists, Olympic hopefuls, tae kwon do athletes, and track and field athletes.

Many people look at A.R.T. as a type of rehabilitation, but in all actuality, it is pre-hab and performance enhancing. All athletes who I work with in North Carolina are required to get an assessment from Dr. Gray to determine any imbalances or limits in mobility. Both issues can be predictors of future injuries. When addressed, these issues can be reduced or eliminated, resulting in immediate performance improvements. I prefer to be proactive when it comes to injury prevention instead of waiting for something to happen. After the assessment, I’m also given a list of weaknesses and imbalances that I can address in my athletes’ strength programs, which eliminates any guessing on my part.

I recommend that trainers, coaches, and parents find the nearest provider and set up an appointment. Whether you’re treating a current condition, want to keep an injury from happening, or want to improve an athlete’s performance, A. R. T. is a must in any strength training regimen. For more information on A.R.T. or to find a provider, visit www.activerelease.com.

For all athletes in North Carolina, here is Dr. Gray’s information:
Lawrence D. Gray, DC, A.R.T.
223 Harper Street
Winston-Salem, NC 27104

Elite Fitness Systems strives to be a recognized leader in the strength training industry by providing the highest quality strength training products and services while providing the highest level of customer service in the industry. For the best training equipment, information, and accessories, visit us at www.EliteFTS.com.