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Shape Up: Loosen up to release the new you


Library Image. Photo: Getty Images

Library Image. Photo: Getty Images

Library Image. Photo: Getty Images

As money tightens and budgets are scrutinised more than ever, some may feel that health is a corner they can cut. But if you manage a company, for example, surely it's in your best interest to help keep your staff healthy?

Absenteeism due to illness and limited output of productivity due to headaches, neck strain and back pain can all hit a company's bottom line.

Cutting down on health spending is like buying fast food because it is cheaper than organic proteins and vegetables.

At some stage you will have to pay the piper as it has been proven that organic foods will provide the raw materials to improve performance, while processed foods deplete minerals and nutrients.

If you have ever been injured, you will appreciate that not only is there physical pain to endure but also a degree of mental anguish due to an inability to do the things you love.

Injuries happen from weak and tight muscles -- when a muscle is tight it tends to weaken. As the tissues become restricted, muscles are drawn closer together causing friction, which can lead to inflammation and acute injury.

Overused muscles cause your body to produce dense scar tissue in the affected area. As scar tissue builds up, muscles become shorter and weaker, tension on tendons causes tendonitis and nerves can become trapped.

When this happens your range of motion is reduced, resulting in loss of strength, pain, and your performance, whether that is on the playing field or in the office, will be inhibited.

Over time, the symptoms accumulate, cause inflammation and chronic injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome, golfers' and tennis elbow, amongst others.

Other factors, such as smoking, excessive body weight and diabetes, can also make circulation less efficient.


I accumulated numerous injuries during my younger days when I was playing soccer, Gaelic and hurling, which encouraged me to seek out various different treatments in order to find some relief.

I discovered that certain treatment methods worked well for some injuries, and certain treatments better for others.

I decided that the more I learned from different practitioners, massage therapists, neuro-muscular therapists, chiropractors, osteopaths and physiotherapists, the more I could help other people with their injuries.

One method that stands out is ART (Active Release Technique), which is used extensively across North America by companies, Ironman triathlons and professional sports teams to treat their employees and players.

It is also used by the medical team that treats Padraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell.

Dr Michael Leahy founded ART in 1984. He combined principles of his former education in aeronautical engineering with his experience as a chiropractor to create this unique method.

ART is a soft tissue management system where its practitioners must learn over 500 treatment moves or protocols.


Most employees will have to use either a laptop or computer. If the ergonomics of the desk are not set up correctly, bending over a laptop or computer will alter their posture.

Poor posture that is unchanging results in constant high forces in the muscles involved.

When the employee starts typing they may experience as many as 10,000 repetitions a day in their fingers and the muscles never really relax.

Ergonomic-friendly desks, resting pads for wrists and joystick-style mouse sticks all aim to break this common cycle to keep people injury-free.

In the US, ART has drastically reduced the frequency of carpal tunnel surgeries.

It also improves the performance of clients in the gym in a much faster time than the conventional massage or friction treatment methods used in many clinics.

ART, as its name suggests, involves active movement of the patient. The premise is as follows.

Shorten the tissue, apply a contact tension and lengthen the tissue or make it slide relative to the adjacent tissue. It's as simple as playing a piano and just as difficult.

If you want to learn more about this treatment method, check out their website www.activerelease.com


Health & Living