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

Legalization of recreational marijuana in Canada: how does it affect massage therapy?

Since 2001, Canadians have been able to use marijuana for medical purposes with a prescription.

This summer, possibly as early as July 1, 2018 and probably by September, 2018, Canadians will also be able legally to buy marijuana for recreational (non-medical) use.


What does this change for massage therapists, or massage clients?

Under current regulations, an RTM should not treat a client who can’t give true informed consent because of their use of medication or any type of substance.

Once marijuana is legal for recreational use, the same standards will apply, for the client’s protection.


What is informed consent?

Already, the Standards of Practice for massage therapists in Ontario require RMTs to get informed consent to treatment from a client at each visit.

And according to the Health Care Consent Act, 1996, a client can only give informed consent if they have the mental capacity to do so. Some drugs (including prescription drugs) or substances may affect the client’s ability to give consent.

  • If the client seems unable to understand the possible risks and benefits of treatment or of not having treatment, or isn’t able to respond appropriately to questions, then for the client’s safety the massage therapist must assume that the client cannot give informed consent at this time and the therapist should not go ahead with the treatment.

A drug or substance can also impair the client’s ability to perceive pain and pressure levels accurately, or to tolerate and recover from treatment.

  • If the RMT believes that is the case, they should adjust their application of  assessment and treatment to protect the client.

For example, if you’ve taken a muscle relaxant or a pain medication an hour or two before your massage, you may not be able fully to feel the sensations in the area being treated, so your RMT will want to use a lighter touch and not work as deeply, to protect you from injury. Marijuana may affect a person in a similar way, so RMTs will exercise professional caution in treatment.


Can I get a massage if I’ve taken a prescription or recreational substance?

Ontario massage therapy regulations say that an RMT should not treat a client who can’t give true informed consent because of the use of medication or any type of substance.

Also, the therapist should modify both assessment and treatment if the client’s awareness of pressure or pain may be diminished.

Once marijuana is legal for recreational use, the same standards will apply.

So it’s best to schedule your massage for a time when your pain perception and ability to give full consent to the treatment are at their most accurate.


If you have questions, feel free to chat with your RMT at your next visit!


Top Choice Awards 2018: Please vote for us!

We’ve been nominated by you, our clients, for the third year in a row as top massage clinic in Ottawa!

Many of you threw your support behind us two years ago and we were thrilled to be voted Ottawa’s Top Massage Therapist in 2016.

Vote Now

Voting has opened for the 2018 Top Choice Awards, and we hope we might have your vote as top massage clinic again this year!

Top Choice Award Nominee 2018

Thank you as always for your continued support and patronage,

The Body Poets Massage Therapy team

Hot or cold?

As we get into the summer outdoor season here in Ontario, it’s time for a reminder from your friendly neighbourhood RMTs about when to use HOT or COLD to treat muscle strains and sprains!

Body Poets Massage Therapy

One of the most common questions people ask their massage therapist about any injury is, “Should I use hot or cold on that?”

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Vote for us in the 2017 Top Choice Awards

Many of you threw your support behind us in 2016, and we were thrilled to be voted Ottawa’s Top Massage Therapist in 2016.

Voting has opened for the 2017 Top Choice Awards, and we hope we might have your vote as top massage clinic again this year!

Top Choice Award Nominee 2016

Thank you for your continued support and patronage,

The Body Poets Massage Therapy team