If I told you there was a type of therapy that could in some cases heal you in one session, relieve your muscle pain, eliminate muscle tightness and restore your body back to its proper balance, would you believe me? Probably not. But that’s because you haven’t heard of a soft tissue treatment called ART. Nor have you had it performed on your body. If you have, then you’ll know just how great this treatment is and what it can do for your body.
“ART is a patented, state of the art soft tissue system / movement based massage technique that treats problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, and nerves. Headaches, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, shin splints, shoulder pain, sciatica, plantar fasciitis, knee problems, and tennis elbow are just a few of the many conditions that can be resolved quickly and permanently with ART. These conditions all have one important thing in common: they are often a result of overused muscles.”
In this interview Dr Wan sheds some light on a treatment that can help you reduce the pain or aches you might be receiving from your workouts inside and outside of the gym.
Wannabebig: Dr Wan thanks for your time. To start off with can you fill us in on what your educational background is?
Dr Wan: I went to the University of British Columbia for undergraduate work and then went on to Western States Chiropractic College in Portland Oregon to obtain my doctorate in Chiropractic. I’ve attended numerous seminars, including Active Release and have also obtained my CSCS from the NSCA for educational reasons.
Wannabebig: So why did you choose to get certified as an ART practitioner? Why not a certified massage therapist?
Dr Wan: After sustaining repetitive injuries to my left rotator cuff I had substantial weakness with any sort of pressing motion in my left arm. I went to physiotherapist who used electrotherapy and couldn’t help me and a chiropractor who did the same thing to no avail. I went to a chiropractor on the advice that ART would help – and it did. About 8 treatments later the chiropractor that did ART was able to find out where I had weakness and adhesion’s and worked it out. A few months later, I was able to regain full strength in my presses and decided that was what I wanted to do for a living and how I wanted to practice it. With massage therapy it’s a bit different as there are many types. Generally massage promotes relaxation and circulation. Neuromuscular Massage gets more specific but it does not fix the soft tissue and make it work properly. ART is protocol specific for the correction of adhesion’s & scar tissues.
Wannabebig: Interesting. So then, what exactly is ART?
Dr Wan: ART (Active Release Technique) is state of the art treatment that is effective for treatment of problems within muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, and nerves. There are over 500 treatment protocols that are unique depending on which structure is being treated. Most people think of scar tissue as something that develops only after a cut, strain, tear, or a crushing injury and occurs only at the site of injury but there are many more ways that scar tissues can develop. Stress, poor posture, and repetitive motions like typing or driving, are all examples of things that can cause muscles to tighten up, leading to adhesion’s. When muscles tighten up for an extended time, this causes increased friction, pressure, and tension to build between the muscle layers.
As a result the oxygen supply to the muscle is significantly decreased. When the muscle tissue does not get enough oxygen the resulting condition is called hypoxia. Hypoxia leads to scar tissue development because some of our muscle cells and connective tissue cells die and stimulate fibrosis; the process that creates scar tissue and adhesion’s. ART is an effective, non-invasive soft tissue treatment process that both locates and breaks down the scar tissue and adhesion’s which cause pain, stiffness, weakness, numbness, and physical dysfunction’s associated with repetitive strain injuries.
Wannabebig: From personal experience I know that I had a lot of work that needed to be done on my body. However, for the readers who have never experienced ART and lift weights how would they benefit from ART?
Dr Wan: A person who lifts weight whether for show, for sports, or just to get healthy have one thing in common – weight lifting will cause micro tears into muscle fibers and the body will consequently repair itself in order to be able to lift the heavy load that it was previously subjected to. That is how hypertrophy of muscles work. If the body cannot maintain the load the only way to do so is to breakdown, grow, and get stronger. With compound movements such as military press, bench press, squats, etc, many muscles are being utilized in order to do the appropriate movement. For instance the bench press will incorporate the pec major, minor, deltoids, triceps, and stabilizer muscles of the spine, neck, and rotator cuff in order to do the movement. If something slightly goes wrong in that movement people will feel a twinge and often times just work through the pain. Over time scar tissue will form and hypoxia will occur and one of those possible stabilizer muscles such as the subclavius will get weaker and weaker impacting your ability to achieve maximum performance.
Those adhesion’s that form in the muscle often lead to someone asking themselves, “Why won’t this get better?” You may end up doing lighter weights, but the problem won’t go away. You may try to rest it, but the problem won’t go away. You may take a smaller rep count, but that still won’t help.
Wannabebig: I’ve been there and done that for sure.
Dr Wan: ART practitioners should be bio-mechanically aware of what movement you are doing and every single muscle that is involved with that movement. With scar tissue buildup, there is a certain “feel” to it and the practitioner should be able to pinpoint where the problem is, fix it and get you to performing to 100% of your capabilities.
Wannabebig: How many treatments does it usually take to fix someone?
Dr Wan: It depends on the severity of the problem, but there should be marked improvement in symptoms within 6-8 treatments. If there are no changes the practitioner should refer the person to somewhere else or try a different approach.
Wannabebig: How long do the treatments last in each session?
Dr Wan: Initial sessions for ART should usually last 30 minutes, whilst subsequent visits normally take around 15-20 minutes. Of course it varies depending on the problems, and the number of muscles involved in the problem.
Wannabebig: Do you have to do anything after your sessions are over (specific stretching, etc.)?
Dr Wan: Stretching is very important to maintaining proper muscle length and to prevent recurrence of injury. The benefits of stretching also include improved flexibility, agility, and posture.
Icing is also important and should be done for 10 minutes. Common misconceptions of icing often involve people leaving the ice on for hours on end. Ice is supposed to help vasoconstrictor blood vessels, but after 10 minutes the body will do the reverse of what it was meant to do and vasodilate the vessels because it senses a shortage of blood going to the area being ice. Often times ART may feel aggressive and slightly painful, but the icing will help decrease any inflammation and facilitate the healing process even more.
Wannabebig: With people who lift weights on a regular basis, what muscles usually need to be worked on when it comes to being treated? (e.g., internal rotators from bench-pressing etc)
Dr Wan: Besides the obvious muscles such as the Pectoralis Major, Deltoids, Triceps and Quads, there are the smaller support muscles. For instance, one patient came in and had severe problems with bench pressing. He was strong as an ox, able to bench 405 pounds but has been unable to do so for a while and couldn’t pinpoint why. After working on his pectoralis major, minor, deltoids, and triceps he was still unable to do his bench pressing. I noticed that his right clavicle had abnormal motion when compared to the left, so worked out his subclavius muscle and the AC ligament. 6 treatments later, he was back to benching 405 pounds.
That being said, muscles such as the external rotators of the shoulder and hip (teres minor, infraspinatus, gluteus medius, Piriformis) as well as ligaments such as the Medial collateral in the knee and AC ligament in the shoulders need to be worked on as well.
Strength trainers can lift more weight then any other people but when doing so on a regular basis, normal wear and tear are bound to occur and when that happens, ART is a great fixture in helping someone get achieve their optimal status.
Wannabebig: Dr Wan thanks for sharing this info. I’m sure it will turn some people on to this rather unknown art of soft tissue release.
Dr Wan: No problem. If people want to contact me for further questions my email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by Maki Riddington
Discuss, comment or ask a question
If you have a comment, question or would like to discuss anything raised in this article, please do so in the following discussion thread on the Wannabebig Forums – The ART of Healing – An interview with Dr Wan discussion thread.
About Dr Wan
Dr. Jonathan Wan was born and raised in Vancouver, BC and attended the University of British Columbia for his undergraduate work. He then continued on to Western States Chiropractic College in Portland, Oregon, to complete his doctorate in chiropractic. Returning back to his roots, he has come back to Vancouver to practice at Precision Health. Because of his strong interest in sports and athletes, he has found an appropriate fit with the clinic.
He is an avid hockey player and enjoys a multitude of sports including golf and bodybuilding. This has fine-tuned his appreciation for the human body and the biomechanics involved. Dr. Wan is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) licensed through the NSCA.