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Manual Adhesion Releaseand Active Release Techniques®

This article is to clarify the distinctions between MAR and ART.

Active Release Techniques is protected by US patent #6,283,916. A patent grants the patent holder exclusive rights to use and sell the ideas contained in the patent. A patent will only be issued if the ideas are new, useful and have not been previously disclosed.

This last point of previous disclosure is interesting. I had seen several publications and videos of Active Release Techniques (and Myofascial Release technique) produced and/or sold years prior to the patent application. Partial list:


  • Myofascial Release Techniques and Mechanical Compromise of Peripheral Nerves of the Upper Extremity, Chiropractic Sports Medicine, vol. 6, pp. 139-150, 1992
  • Altered Biomechanics of the Shoulder and the Subscapularis, Chiropractic Sports Medicine, vol. 5, pp. 62-66, 1991
  • Improved Treatments for Carpal Tunnel and Related Syndromes, Chiropractic Sports Medicine, vol. 9, pp. 6-9, 1995
  • Active Release Techniques, Video set, Active Release Techniques LLC, 1993.

These publications explain the process of shortening a muscle, taking a contact then lengthening the muscle to reduce adhesion:

“A soft, broad thumb or two-finger contact is then placed just distal to the lesion so that it may be actively drawn under the contact as the patient takes the tissue from its shortest to longest position… This draws the adhesion under the doctor’s contact and reduces it.” This excerpt is from 1992 in the first reference above describing myofascial release technique (MRT).

Based on this I could not figure out how ART was able to get a patent. To answer this question I hired a law firm. My attorneys advised me that the best way to answer this question was to challenge the patent. This is a process where we present evidence to the patent office, they decide if this evidence is substantial to question the patent, then collect information from the patent holder and render a verdict to uphold or defeat the patent.

After many thousands of dollars and almost a full year the patent office upheld the ART patent. Here is why:

From the patent’s office Statement of Reasons for Patentability and/or Confirmation:

“The prior art of record fails to anticipate or render obvious a training method comprising the step of training others to display apparatus including a plurality of indicia each representative of a symptom pattern and an expert derived symptom pattern, which is superimposed on a portion of the human anatomy in combination with the other training steps of claim 1.”

In plain English: The ART patent was upheld because of the use of symptom pattern charts! This was almost unbelievable- the least emphasized part of ART is the very thing that makes it patentable.

The patent includes a diagram outlining steps for use of ART. The first five steps:

  1. Display symptom pattern images.
  2. Select a symptom pattern image.
  3. Associate symptom pattern image with treatment protocol.
  4. Implement treatment protocol.
  5. Diagnose soft tissue lesion.

ART does not have a patent on shorten, tension, lengthen to reduce adhesion but rather a patent on the larger group of ideas including displaying symptom pattern charts only. The treatment application itself is not protected.

Having been an ART provider from 1997-2009 I was under the impression, for several reasons, that ART had a patent on the treatment part of ART, this is not the case.

Manual Adhesion ReleaseTM is integrated with the Integrative Diagnosis system to use history, exam, palpation and response to treatment to guide the diagnostic and treatment process. We do not use or recommend the use of symptom pattern charts. We also teach that the diagnosis of adhesion should be obtained prior to delivery of treatment.

Having taught many ART seminars I became frustrated by the lack of diagnostic process and predictable results. Seminar attendees would often leave the seminar thinking they just have to apply ART where it hurts and the patient should get better. When this fails providers become disappointed and use only their favorite protocols or abandon the procedures all together.

Using Manual Adhesion Release and Integrative Diagnosis providers learn exactly how to diagnose adhesion, establish relevance and apply targeted treatment.  We give you the tools to think your way through the process using your hands less and your head more: better results, faster with less manual labor.

Dr. William Brady
Integrative Diagnosis LLC
February 22, 2011

Note: This is not legal advice. To avoid boring you to tears this is a very brief version of the facts, but does represent the truth as I, my attorneys and the United States Patent office have determined. Legal matters are often subject to further investigation and revision.