Chiropractors, physical therapists and other certified specialists use Active Release Techniques (ARTВ®) massage in their clinics to relieve pain, stiffness and impaired movement in the hips and other joints. An effective treatment for common hip problems, this therapeutic approach works by freeing trapped nerves and blood vessels from bands of scar-like tissue called adhesions. Although trained practitioners administer the initial ARTВ® treatments, chiropractors recommend combining these with at-home stretching and strengthening hip exercises to help you heal faster and maintain strong hips to avoid future injuries.
How Active Release Treatment Works
Chiropractor Dr. Michael Leahy developed the ARTВ® treatment in 1991 and later patented the method's specific movements. Active release therapy is a dual treatment approach that relies on active participation between you and a trained therapist. After the therapist breaks up and removes your hip-area adhesions in the first stages of treatment, you will need to perform stretching and strengthening exercises to recover and maintain healthy hips. Stronger and more flexible hip muscles help prevent micro-trauma to your hip muscles and joints - and avoid the development of adhesions causing hip stiffness, weakness and pain.
Hip Muscles Involved in Active Release Exercises
Your hip joints rely on opposing pairs of muscles that surround and control hip movement in all directions. The hip's outer muscle group includes the gluteus maximus, hamstrings, quadriceps and abductors. A set of smaller, deeper hip muscles such as the piriformis, gluteus medius and obturators provide hip stability. Strengthening and stretching these muscle groups with active release hip exercises is an essential component of active release therapy. In addition, get your core stronger and do aerobic exercise -- like walking -- to improve blood circulation. But don't start new exercises before consulting your chiropractor or other ARTВ® treatment specialist to find out which exercises -- and how many reps -- are right for you.
Exercises to Build Stronger Hip and Core Muscles
Strong hip muscles need the strong core developed by Standard Bridge and Leg-lock Bridge exercises. These moves work your glutes and other key stability muscles. Likewise, the Clamshell exercise targets hip rotator muscles in the glutes and thigh to help you gain and keep core stability strength. And don't forget the side-lying hip abduction move. This exercise strengthens the hip abductor muscles on the outside of your thighs to improve your posture, walking gait and running ability. Side plank and plank exercises also work the glutes and quadriceps to build hip and core strength. In addition, squat exercises will also get your core stronger, as will the back lunge move. And for safer overall movement everyday, the dead lift exercise strengthens your core, hips and legs at the same time.
Stretching Exercises for Your Hips
The piriformis stretch and piriformis variation exercises help your hips work better by loosening piriformis muscles under the glutes. The piriformis muscles rotate your hips outward, and when they're tight, they can compress the sciatic nerve and cause buttock or leg pain. The IT band stretch is another essential exercise for the hips. Tight or weak iliotibial band muscles can cause pain on the outside of the knee or hip -- a problem linked to weak lateral hip muscles that make the IT band work too hard. Finally, try the kneeling hip flexor exercise to simultaneously work your core as you stretch your hip muscles. In addition to preventing running injuries, it's a good stretch if you drive a lot or mostly sit at work.