It has been 5 and a half years since I graduated from Quinnipiac University with a degree in Athletic Training/Sports Medicine. Throughout my undergraduate coursework, we were tested, re-tested, and tested again on anatomy, this is something I have always known very well. But, our hands-on skills in the areas of soft-tissue mobilization, restoring nerve gliding, and freeing up adhered tissues was limited. In fact, much of what I did after undergrad was ischemic compression, which involved placing firm pressure over a “trigger point” causing it to release.
As I look back to my first experiences working in college athletics, I know I have grown leaps and bounds. There were many injuries, that with Active Release Techniques (ART), would have responded much more effectively, allowing the athlete to return to their sport in a shorter time frame. To recall just a few, the often diagnosed “sciatica,” carpal tunnel syndrome, and rotator cuff tendonitis. Despite being very good with therapeutic exercise and modalities, many of these chronic injuries just didn’t respond well. A missing component within my arsenal of skills was soft-tissue mobilization, specifically ART.
Since becoming a Certified ART Provider, I have come back into contact with many of these injuries that stressed myself and my athletes out for weeks to months. I almost feel bad looking back that they had to miss so many practices and games of the sports which they loved. They also had numerous appointments for diagnostic imaging and with doctors who also did not understand the soft-tissue component, like myself at that time. With ART, I have witnessed several people who were on the brink of surgery become pain-free and regain function. Others who have had nagging injuries that did not respond well to traditional physical therapy get back to what they love. I’m not saying that every injury is miraculously cured with Active Release, it does has a time and place when it should be implemented to achieve the best results. But overall, my effectiveness of treatment has increased significantly with the addition of ART.
It sucks to look back and think, “Man, I wish I knew this then.” But, I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to expand my education and skills, which ultimately provides better outcomes. My hope is that in 5 years I will be writing the same thing again, showing that I have become better at what I do. Growth and learning is a continual process which we will never completely catch up to. There are so many advances and new information developing on a daily basis that all we can do is keep our minds open and keep learning.
Garrett McLaughlin is a Licensed Athletic Trainer, Personal Trainer, and ART Provider in the Nashville area. He implements ART into his fitness and rehabilitation programs to restore normal, pain-free range of motion and function. For more information on ART, click here.