What you need to know about Active Release Technique and Rockblade

May 16, 2019

You may be wondering whether to get Active Release Technique (A.R.T) or Rockblade done in your next Chiropractic session. The answer may very well be a combination of both, and will depend on the individual. Your therapist will be best at letting you know which technique you would most benefit from depending on your concerns, but here is a rundown of the key differences to help you understand and be informed.

Both the Active Release Technique (A.R.T) and Rockblade are typically delivered in a Chiropractic session in addition to mobilizations (gentle movements of the joints without cracking), and traditional physio modalities such as therapeutic ultrasound, electrical currents and prescribed rehab exercises. Manipulation or cracking of the joints is entirely optional.

If you’re not already familiar with these techniques, they are soft tissue massage techniques, which are similar to a traditional massage but much more targeted for certain tissues such as fascia and tendons that may be tight and restricted due to being overworked.

Active Release Technique (A.R.T)

Active Release Technique (or myofascial release) is the official sponsor of Iron Man for a soft tissue technique. This technique came into existence as a result of Athletes needing more than just general broad, long strokes offered by the traditional Swedish massage techniques. It targets each strip of muscle individually. A simple example that is easy to relate to are the bicep and brachialis muscles that flex/bend the arm when doing a bicep curl. Each of these muscles can be treated individually as long as the therapist knows how they run – where the muscle starts and finishes. With this technique, and if treating the biceps for example, the therapist will extend the arm from a curled position, taking the muscle from a shortened (contracted) state to a lengthened (relaxed) state. While doing so, the therapist will apply pressure along different points of the muscle by compressing it similarly to a massage. If treating the brachialis, which is the deeper layer of the arm flexor, the position of the forearm helps isolate the biceps from the brachialis. The ultimate goal is to knead out any knots and increase the length of the muscle by stretching it out. This in turn prevents it from shortening and tightening up again,  providing a longer lasting effect versus traditional massage where the client remains still and muscles are only broken down by pressure.


Rockblade (aka Instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization/massage) is a soft tissue technique that breaks up muscles and fascial tension causing tightness and a pulling sensation restriction resulting in a decrease in normal ranges of motion. It utilizes a metal tool with dull edges to break up scar tissues or adhesions in tissues (see picture above). Other benefits also include increasing joint range of motion, decreasing pain and boosting local circulation in the treated areas to speed up the healing process.  Evidence is currently most favourable in treating shoulder impingement, chronic ankle instability, carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic low back pain, and delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), which occurs after sporting events and workouts. In our professional experience, however, generally all muscle, tendon or fascial restrictions will improve with this technique.

Active Release and Rockblade techniques are both very effective in treating various conditions and injuries. Your therapist will be able to determine, which technique(s) would be most appropriate and beneficial to you. To book a session with our Chiropractor and Physical Rehab specialist Diana Cho, click here or give us a call at 905.727.2963.

Author: Spine Stretch Team Contributer

The objective voice behind the Spine Stretch Team.
Spine Stretch Team Contributer Spine Stretch Team Contributer
May 16, 2019 May 16, 2019

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