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Ben Nadel
It's not enough; but, not enough is better than nothing.
Ben Nadel at CFUNITED 2009 (Lansdowne, VA) with: Mike Oliver
Ben Nadel at CFUNITED 2009 (Lansdowne, VA) with: Mike Oliver

Fantastic Article On Active Release Techniques Using Foam Rollers

By Ben Nadel on

NOTE: This article is not really about Active Release Technique (ART) - it's a technique called "Self-Myofascial Release". However, I did just receive some most excellent Active Release Technique treatment from Dr. Christopher Anselmi in New York City (NYC). Read about it here.

I just came across this most excellent article on titled, "Feel Better For $10." The article outlines how to use a foam roller to perform your own Active Release Techniques (ART) (when you do it yourself, I guess it's called 'Self-Myofascial Release'). This is a very important article for me because I suffer from knee pain due to tightness and adhesions. I have been working with foam rollers in order to try an get me back and squatting and dead-lifting the sweet weight in the gym some day.

Here is the teaser for their article (by Eric Cressey and Mike Robertson):

Ten bucks doesn't buy much nowadays. You could pick up a day pass at some commercial gym, or pull off the co-pay on a visit to the chiropractor. If you're lucky, you might even be able to swing a mediocre Russian mail order bride.

Or, you could just go the safe route with your $10, take our advice, and receive a lifetime of relief from the annoying tightness so many athletes and weekend warriors feel from incessantly beating on their bodies. Don't worry, this isn't an infomercial. We just want you to pick up a foam roller for self-myofascial release and deep tissue massage.

Check out the full article here.

The following images were taken from the above article, displayed here to give you a quick idea of what the article is talking about:









This is the one I do most often at home (the IT band). It is ZERO fun :) The guy in the picture is putting one foot on the ground. Before I realized that you could do that, I was stacking my legs with full body weight. YIKES! The lower quads also hurt something sweet.

























Reader Comments

Very good article, the roller is a great tool. But, Active Release (ART) can not be done with a roller. In ART you are moving one layer of tissue in one direction while the other in moving in oppositon. This can only be done with the practitioner moving tissue in one direction, while the patient moves in the opposite direction. The roller is also a very general tool, covering numerous structures at the same time. ART is very specific, 50 percent of ART procedures are for nerve entrapement syndromes. There is no way you can do this with a roller. Great article but saying you are doing Active Release Technqiues is misleading to say the least.

All the best
Dr. Brian Abelson (ART instructor)


That sounds right. When I had ART done on me, I was flexing my knee (extending the muscle) as the practitioner was forcibly digging his thumbs into me leg, moving in the opposite direction. The term they used (Self-Myofascial Release) is that accurate? I did not mean to mislead, I am just a programmer with knee problems :)

Self-Myofascial Release is a very accurate term. Forcibly digging of thumbs into your leg is not the ideal technique. ART is suppose to be done with more tension than compression. As I said great article, look forward to seeing more.

Thanks for the clarification. I had thought that ART was an umbrella term for breaking up scar tissue in any way. But honestly, I can certainly tell you that getting ART from another person seems to be much more affective than using the foam roller :(

Self-Myofascial Release truly should be demonstrated by a professional first. As a massage therapist with a very busy schedule I do recommend my clients do their "homework". Self-care is extremely important. It's wonderful to see that people are starting to take better care of themselves, yet an article will not give the reader the benefit of knowing proper body placement and weight distribution. :) In some cases, clients can overwork the wrong muscle group or strain a muscle as a result of the roller. Please don't get me wrong, rollers are a wonderful addition to the "homework" of the motivated, but should be demonstrated by the professionals.


That sounds like good advice. I never know if I am doing it correctly. All I know is that I find it very painful. As such, I have been very lazy about doing it.

At age 47 after playing rugby for 25 years I tore my rotator cuff to shreds. After an extensive open surgery repair, I started the painful process of rehab. I needed deep tissue massage to help with the pain but couldn't afford it and instead turned to tennis ball therapy. I expanded the idea by placing numerous balls in a pillow case and found it was fantastic for not just my shoulder but the rest of my body as well.

My rotator cuff has recovered much better than the Ortho surgeon and physical therapist ever thought, regaining almost all of its range of motion. I believe it was due to the MFR treatment I was giving myself with the bag of balls.

I've taken it further and now use 3.5" diameter very firm closed cell EVA balls in a special round bag. I think the idea of multiple (very firm) points of contact achieve the pushing in opposite directions and may qualify as ART. So far, three PT'S have worked with the ShiatsuBag (thats what I named it) and said it great. For the same cost of a quality foam roller, it offers many advantages. Let me know if you agree or disagree.


I think that sounds like a really good idea. I'll have to look into that at home. I think I need to get some sort of regular home regime going as well.

I have had 32 sessions of Graston Technique massage to release myofascial tissue in my legs, feet, shoulders, and neck with excellent results. Now I have learned to do a form of ART on my arm and plan to have more done as needed. Relief from pain and lower blood pressure (like from 140/90 to 110/70) have made it all endurable.

Ha ha great photos of rollering the IT band. I suspect I have an inflammed IT band as my knee is sore on the outside when I run. Going to buy me a roller tomorrow and use these photos as a guide. Great blog, thank you :-)

I am very proficient in SMR, but am having trouble finding free information on learning ART without having to get certified. Is ART part of Scientology? (joke) but seriously would love to find real info on ART