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

What the Cup? Massage Cupping at Body Poets

Andrew King 2015By: Andrew King
Andrew is a registered massage therapist at Body Poets who wants you to know what all the fuss is about cupping!

What is Cupping Therapy?

Cupping therapy uses hand-held cups applied to the skin and soft tissue – in other words, to the upper layers of muscle and fascia – to lift and separate the tissues.

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Tugging on My Hamstrings

Muscle of the month: The Hamstrings (biceps femoris, semimembranosus, semitendinosus)

The hamstrings consist of three distinct muscles that make up the bulk of the posterior thigh. Working opposite to the quadriceps (remember The Thigh Who Loved Me?), like a pulley, these powerful muscles provide mobility, stability, and coordination of the lower extremity. From walking and running, to busting a move on the dance floor, our hamstrings are working hard to keep us moving and grooving.

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Learning to Love Running

Ottawa_massage_blog_Amy_Schultz_rmt By: Amy Schultz, RMT
Amy, a registered massage therapist at Body Poets, now loves to run.

I never thought I would be a runner, never in a million years.  I used to joke that I might consider running if a hungry animal was chasing me (I suppose these days I should say if a zombie was chasing me, just to keep my “joke” current) or, maybe for the bus (haha, I’m sure you’ve heard it all before), but in all seriousness,

I truly did hate running for, or away from, anything. 

I think this is because many times in the past I have tried to become a runner and failed.

I think there were a number of reasons for my previous failures, but most of these reasons stemmed from one basic flaw in my attempt at training, and that was that

 I went for as long, as far and as fast as I could possibly go on my first day. 

This resulted in me hating it while I was suffering through it, as well as for the next 2-3 days afterwards, because I was very sore for that many days.  Being a massage therapist I tend to listen to my body and when something hurts that much it means stop, don’t do it, so I listened.

Although, I do have to admit, most of my attempts at becoming a runner were before I was a massage therapist, because I knew a lot less about the body and even less about how to try to make a reasonable training schedule.  But even once I had some idea about how to create a training schedule, for some reason I still didn’t know how hard and far I should push my own body in my first week or even day of trying to run.  So I always gave up, and thought,

“Running isn’t for me, I’m just not designed to run.  I’m designed for yoga, and hiking, and cycling, but not running.”

Then one day my partner signed me up for a 5km run, so I had to do something different if I was going to be able to complete this task he had set for me (I had asked him to sign me up though, so I wouldn’t have any more excuses).  In his infinite wisdom he also suggested

I tried a Learn to Run clinic offered by The Running Room, and that’s what made the difference. 

Ottawa_massage_blog_runningIn the first week you only run for one minute and walk for two minutes, times 7 reps, 3 days a week.  At the first class, I was towards the front of the group thinking to myself, this is a breeze, why did I think this was so hard before?  From there the running increments are so small, usually just an extra minute at a time, that it’s relatively painless.  Until one day you’re running for 10 minutes straight at a time with just one minute walk break in between your reps.  After that, I joined the 5km clinic that they offered just to be sure I could run for at least 5km.

Mind you, I still have had some mild challenges with certain aches and pains that are common to running, like tight shins (almost shin splints, but I never let it get to that point), tight IT band, sore feet or Achilles tendon/calf tightness, hip flexor tightness, maybe throw in a little glute or piriformis tightness for good measure.  Luckily with my knowledge of the body and stretching and massage, I was always able to take care of it myself before it turned into a real problem for me, so

I was never sidelined by any of my challenges.

And I was able to complete my 5km run on September 22. I completed it in 34 minutes and 31 seconds. Ottawa_massage_blog_running_shoes My training runs on my own were a little faster, because there were a lot of people on the road on race day, but it was a lot of fun!   And I like that I had a goal to train for, it kept me motivated to stick with my training program until it just became a habit to go for a 5km run.

Now that new habit feels good, I don’t hate it anymore, I don’t suffer, and I’m not sore. 

I love how much fitter and healthier I feel.  I’m even considering training for a longer race, but in all honesty going for a 4-5km run 3 times a week is enough to keep me healthy and happy, and longer distances are going to put more wear and tear and stress on my body, so I will really have to think about why I might want to train for a longer race.

I highly recommend The Running Room clinics, either the learn to run, or if you’re already a runner, they have clinics for longer distance training too. It is helpful if you want to train for a longer distance and reduce the risk of injury or pushing yourself too far, too fast.

I think anyone who wants to become a runner should be able to,

if you follow a gradual training program, not adding too much running time or distance at once (don’t be a hero), but being consistent.  If you follow a stretching program, and maybe do some self massage or foam rolling you should be able to run relatively problem- and pain-free.  However, if you still happen to start feeling some aches and pains, or are unsure of what to do for yourself, then please get some help with your tight or problem areas from a massage therapist and/or a physiotherapist.  The sooner you deal with a potential problem, the less likely it is to turn into a major problem or a chronic problem, and the sooner you can get back to your normal activities and training schedule.