ART for every body

Tyler Milewski RMT Body Poets downtown Ottawa massage therapyBy: Tyler Milewski, RMT

Tyler is a registered massage therapist trained and certified in full-body Active Release Techniques, who has experienced first-hand the powerful ways that ART improves movement, function, and quality of life. Tyler also draws on his experience teaching Karate to enhance his treatments and give people a better understanding of their abilities. Read more about Tyler

Active Release Technique is a form of manual therapy that has gained a lot of popularity in recent years, and for good reason. Active Release Technique (ART) is a comprehensive system that helps you move and function as well as you possibly can. Sounds…exciting! It is. But how does it work, and why does it work?

ART has been around for 30 years, but recently it has really started to gain traction among chiropractors, physiotherapists, massage therapists, and other health-care workers. ART is an extremely effective method for dealing with what we call ‘adhesions’ in medicine. So, what are adhesions and why are they bad? Why are they important?

Your body is made up of ​tons of different moving parts, and they all have to share a pretty small space. For this reason, those moving parts tend to stick together. Not too hard to imagine, right? Once this happens in a particular area of your body, you have yourself an adhesion. It’s also now easy to see why this could be a big problem. Things that are stuck together are harder to move, and you end up using a lot more energy than you should just to move around!

Don’t we all find everything takes enough energy already? When muscles, ligaments, and other structures get hung up on each other, not only does it mean you put more effort into your activities, but your body starts doing things you haven’t asked it to do. If your quadriceps are stuck, for instance, your knee may move in unwanted directions during your activities. This increases your risk of injury, and the quality of the information reaching your brain from those muscles will decline steadily. Your muscles and joints will also begin to adapt and move in all sorts of weird and stressful ways if these things go unchecked for long enough. This can negatively impact your sports performance, as well as put a dent in your general health. Sounds a bit scary so far…but wait. Good news is coming. Adhesions occur all the time and for different reasons, but movement is the key (as cliché as that sounds). This is where ART really shines.

So, if things are stuck together, what should we do? Get in there and move them around, of course. And that, right there, is the whole concept of ART. But how does a therapist actually ​do this? The short answer is: manually, somewhat similar to massage, actually.

An ART provider knows exactly how to get you moving normally again. This is accomplished by understanding where different structures are, and how they’re supposed to move. The therapist then works a little bit of manual magic by prying the structures apart; using skillful directional touch and deliberate, methodical motions. Often times the client can get involved by moving a part of their body while this is happening, adding a neat interactive element. ART works by either assisting or restricting parts of your body as they move in the direction they are supposed to. This has the effect of separating structures from one another.

Many highly effective massage techniques can be uncomfortable at times for the client. Trigger point release and myofascial release are two good examples of this. ART falls into this category as well, but it is not inherently painful every time, and often it can be pain-free as well. As with any technique, the therapist will keep in touch with your comfort levels and adjust accordingly.

ART is a simple solution for the very common problem of adhesions. All sorts of people can benefit from it, and for a wide variety of different reasons. In reality, the list of health issues that ART can treat is a bit too long to list in full…and it includes things that you would not expect. Some people are surprised when they hear that ART can help with things like swelling, circulatory problems, numbness or tingling, migraine headaches, shooting pains (such as with sciatica), and arthritis. People always remark with surprise when they realize how much it helps, since they don’t expect it to help so much!

You must see it to believe it, though. Believe it you will, if you care to witness it for yourself…

You can book appointments with Tyler for ART and for massage therapy at

The smooth beauty of hot stone massage

Derek Neimor - Ottawa Massage BlogBy: Derek Neimor, RMT
Derek is an RMT at Body Poets in Ottawa, but he grew up on the rocky shores of Newfoundland. His childhood experiences and RMT training led him to a love of hot stone massage.

Fall is my favorite season, bar none. While the changing leaves are spectacular, my true obsession with the fall is the sun. This is the only time of year I will seek out the sun, the warmth, offset by cool air and a slight breeze. Though most of the sun’s warmth has disappeared for this year, it still brought back memories. Hot Stone - Ottawa Massage BlogIn another life, growing up in Newfoundland, I took my love for the fall sun one step further by spending many afternoons hiking in the barrens and on the cliffs searching for the perfect spot to have a little afternoon nap.

What I was searching for was a sun-warmed bed of rocks.

Not any old bunch of rocks would do: they needed to be smooth, no jagged edges, and all of them roughly the same thickness. I did not want any pokey bits! I also needed to find the one rock I would use for a pillow; it would sit in the crook of my neck keeping everything in alignment. I was always thrilled when I found a spot that was laid out ready for use and no need for rearrangement, but that was a rare occurrence. Then it was time to get cozy, settle in to those warm rocks and close my eyes and let my mind drift.

When I eventually got up, I always felt great and at ease, in mind and body.

I looked back on those afternoons very fondly; however, due to changing circumstances and responsibilities, it had been a long time since I last enjoyed a nap on a bed of rocks. Then a few years ago while I was training to be a massage therapist, I heard about hot stone massage … and my interest was piqued immediately.

Derek Hot Stone - Ottawa Massage BlogThe thought of using hot stones to give a massage seemed so right, so complete; there could not be a more perfect combination of tool and application to use it.

Through study, I learnt that hot stones can help achy muscles and arthritic pain due to the direct and long-lasting heat obtained. Heat also has great effect on circulation, so those suffering from Raynaud’s or other circulatory system disorders can benefit from regular hot stone massage.

Now, as I treat, it is just as I imagined: holding the heated rocks in my hands brings me back to those nourishing afternoon naps and I seem to carry that seed of tranquility during the massage that I am performing. I feel invigorated, yet peaceful, and able to

share that restorative experience with my client through the medium of each smooth, perfect, basalt stone.