Dr. Charles Graham’s Blog

Chiropractic and Active Release Techniques®

By Dr. Charles Graham

Welcome to Dr. Graham’s blog.  I would like to start a discussion on chiropractic and the various uses of Active Release Techniques® (ART), a soft tissue protocol that releases adhesions between soft tissue structures such as muscles, muscles and nerves, muscles and other muscles, etc.

I’m a 29 year veteran chiropractor of Mid-Michigan Chiropractic Center in St. Johns, Michigan who has been using ART for almost 9 years and have been an instructor for it for almost 6 years.  If anyone has had ART treatment, or would like to know more about this fantastic soft tissue treatment procedure, I would like to hear from you.  Although I will not be able to “diagnose” your condition from this blog, I may be able to point you in the right direction by answering your questions. 

Comments are welcome, however vulgar or inappropriate language will not be tolerated, and will be immediately removed.  As in all blogs, spam is not tolerated either.

I have successfully used chiropractic spinal adjustments and/or Active Release Techniques® on many of my patients with great results for conditions such as whiplash, carpal tunnel syndrome, sciatica, headaches, neck  pain, back pain, plantar fascitis, heel spurs, tennis elbow, golfers elbow, shin splints, hamstring pulls, muscle tears, shoulder capsulitis, and many, many, more.

The average person, the young and old, athletes of all types, and those who suffer with pain and stiffness have benefited by using chiropractic techniques, ART, or a combination of both depending on their condition.   

Athletes benefit greatly not only in pain relief, but in athletic performance.  By releasing adhesions that can build up in or between muscles, athletic performance (such as that in tri-athletes) becomes more efficient leaving more energy for greater endurance or faster performances.  Baseball pitchers throw with greater ease, football players have less injuries, golfers have a more controlled swing, etc.

Example:  A tri-athlete at an Ironman Race in Lake Placid a few years ago was treated at the ART tent for mild pain while swimming.  Immediately after the treatment he felt so good that he swam the entire 2.4 mile course beating his best time by 2 full minutes while his heart rate was 10 beats per minute slower than usual.  (Tri-athlete swimmers will typically wear a heart monitering device so they can “pace” themselves at a rate that will not exhaust their reserves before crossing the finish line.)  What this meant for that athlete is that he could have pushed himself a little harder and performed even better.

Another example is someone I worked on at Lake Placid that same year that had a goal of finishing the race in under 12 hours.  During my evaluation I found that he had many restrictions of movement while running and swimming.   During the two days that I saw him I was able to completely release most of the adhesions that I found making running and swimming much easier for him.  He e-mailed me back with his official time of 11 hours 29 minutes and 30 seconds.  He beat his goal by over 1/2 hour, and was not completely exhausted at the end of the race as he had been in the past.

More and more people are turning to natural methods of healing.  Those who have used chiropractic care, especially with the addition of Active Release Techniques® have had remarkable recoveries when other methods have failed.  You don’t have to be an athlete to reap the benefits of ART, and especially when combined with chiropractic care.

I would like to hear your comments, good or bad about your experiences with chiropractic care and/or Active Release Techniques® or your questions regarding treatment with ART.

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5 Responses to “Dr. Charles Graham’s Blog”

  1. Bill Brandon Says:

    I was a runner. I had heel spurs develop on both heels. I was told that to remove them was an easy minor surgery and I would be running in 3 momnths. that was 2 years ago and two surgeries later. the first to remove the spur, the second to debride the area of scar tissue and bone fragments.

    I am getting no relief with pain. I now wear high top basketball shoes all the time to “bridge” the area. When I try to start a regimine again, I start by walking. The result is always excruciating pain for 3-4 days. this happens even if I stretch and warmup properly and then stretch and cool down properly.

    Iam fairly desparate to even get back to walking minus pain. Do you have any advice?

  2. Dr. Charles Graham Says:


    You sound like candidate for Active Release Techniques® (ART). Heel spurs and plantar fascitis come about due to direct injury to the tissues from trauma, strain, repetitive motion (running), muscle spasms, hypoxia (loss of oxygen), and disease. When the muscles and tissues are deprived of oxygen or the tissue has been damaged as can happen with runners, inflammation results. Inflammation will cause scar tissue to accumulate in and around the area that’s injured. During the formation of scar tissue a process called “denervation supersensitive” can occur. That’s when nerve fibers form into the developing scar tissue. These nerve fibers are pain sensors. When you stretch or distort the scar tissue you set off the nerves with resultant pain. The more scar tissue, the more pain even when just stepping on your feet.

    Active Release Techniques® is a procedure that “releases” the scar tissue from the good tissue. By breaking the bonds of good tissue to the scar tissue, and sometimes breaking up the scar tissue itself, the muscles and tissues are allowed to stretch to their normal length unimpeded. This restores proper blood flow allowing a better grade of healing. In many cases the body will absorb the pain sensing nerves too as they are no longer needed. ART will not remove the scar tissue, but instead restores joint function by improving muscle and other tissue motion to allow a greater range of joint movement, and in most cases without pain or at least a reduction in pain.

    Properly fitted orthotics that have been molded from a weight bearing stance helps in many cases especially when used in conjunction with ART. I once asked an orthopedic surgeon, who specialized in foot surgery, his opinion on weight bearing vs. non-weight bearing casting for orthotics. His opinion was that weight bearing should get better results. I personally use weight bearing digital scans for othotic examination for orthotics from Foot Levelers. Foot Levelers has many types of orthotics to choose from to match different needs, such as running shoes, dress shoes, sweaty feet, etc. I’ve had great success using them.

    My recommendation would be to get an examination from a certified Active Release Techniques® provider who is qualified in lower extremity. If you are in the Mid Michigan area, I am the only full body certified ART provider (and instructor). I’ve had good results using ART for heel spurs.

    You may also locate an ART provider at http://www.activerelease.com, and select “Find a Provider” from the Main Menu on the left of your screen. Enter your zipcode and the locater will find the provider nearest to you.

    Dr. Graham

  3. Linda Kristina Says:

    To anyone considering Dr. Graham and ART,

    I recently attended an ART seminar as a student in Chicago where I met Dr. Charles Graham, who was one of the instructors for the course. ART is studied in approximately five small groups made up of about ten students each. There are two instructors to each group. There are about 90 protocols per ART class and all instructors rotate to the next group after six protocols, so each student has the opportunity to work with all instructors.

    After working with all the instructors, I found Dr. Graham to be incredibly helpful. He had exceptional feedback skills as well as the ability to fine-tune movements for the proper application. He also has the ability to explain complex problems in easily understood terms, and this is one of his greatest strengths as an instructor and practitioner.

    His patience and passion is evident as he spent extra time with me after a tiring three-day course in preparation for a practical exam the following day. I am grateful to Dr. Graham for his knowledge and ongoing mentorship as I go through the process to master ART.

    I have never had the opportunity to be a patient at his practice because we live in different states. However, I know his passion for ART as well as his desire to return patients to pre-injury status. You could do no wrong to inquire to see if ART is the right treatment for you. Dr. Graham and ART can solve a wealth of acute injuries as well as chronic conditions that have been resistant to other techniques.

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  5. AvaimiRah Says:

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