By: Active Sports Therapy with Text from Active Release Techniques©
The ankle is such a critical area for athletes as it forms the primary connection between the body and the ground. This area of the body will feel a tremendous amount of force and pressure on a regular basis. Motions such as running, jumping, and direction changing require a considerable amount of strength and flexibility from the ankle and its surrounding muscles.
Because of it’s high impact use, the ankle is often a site of injury for athletes. Unfortunately, when these foot and ankle injuries occur the will not only hinder performance, but can often progress to the point of preventing play altogether.
How Injuries Occur
Over time the muscles of the lower leg can become strained and develop small scale injury known as micro-trauma.
- Initially, this micro-trauma is not painful, but a person may describe it as a mild ache or tightness in the foot, ankle, or lower leg.
- Your body responds to tissue injury in a very predictable way – by laying down new tissue to repair the damaged tissue. The scar tissue itself is not a problem – in fact it is a normal and necessary part of healing. The problem occurs when the ankle is subjected to the same high workload due to the continued, repetitive, high force athletic movements.
- We will then see the same muscles become strained & repaired over and over again. Over time this scar tissue will build-up and accumulate into what are called adhesions. As these adhesions form they start to affect the normal health and function of the muscles. They will often lead to pain, tightness, stiffness, restricted joint motion, and diminished blood flow.
ART: Our Approach to Ankle Injuries– A Better Solution
ART stands for Active Release Techniques. It is a new and highly successful hands-on treatment method to address problems in the soft tissues of the body, including the muscles, ligaments, fascia, and nerves. ART treatment is highly successful in dealing with foot and ankle injuries because it is specifically designed to locate and treat scar tissue adhesions that accumulate in the muscles and surrounding soft tissues. By location and treating the soft-tissue adhesions with ART, it allows the practitioner to:
1) breakup restrictive adhesions,
2) reinstate normal tissue flexibility and movement
3) restore flexibility, balance, and stability to the injured area and to the entire kinetic chain
You can think of an ART treatment as a type of active massage. The practitioner will first shorten the muscle, tendon, or ligament, and then apply a very specific pressure with their hand as you actively stretch and lengthen the tissues. As the tissue lengthens the practitioner is able to assess the texture and tension of the muscle to determine if the tissue is healthy or contains scar tissue that needs further treatment. When scar tissue adhesions are felt the amount and direction of tension can be modified to treat the problematic area. In this sense, each treatment is also an assessment of the health of the area as we are able to feel specifically where the problem is occurring.
An additional benefit of ART is it allows us to further assess and correct problems not only at the site of pain itself, but also in other areas of the kinetic chain, which are associated with movement compensations and are often contributing factors to the problem. This ensures that all the soft tissues that have become dysfunctional and are contributing to the specific injury are addressed, even if they have not yet all developed pain.
One of the best things about ART is how fast it can get results. In our experience, the majority of ankle injuries respond very well to ART treatment, especially when combined with the appropriate home stretching and strengthening exercises. Although each case is unique and there are several factors that will determine the length of time required to fully resolve each condition, we usually find a significant improvement can be gained in just 4-6 treatments. These results are the main reason that many elite athletes and professional sports teams have ART practitioners on staff, and why ART is an integral part of the Ironman triathlon series.
To book in with one of our chiropractors for this treatment, please call 403-278-1405