Physioplus in Albir, on the Northern Costa Blanca is not just another physiotherapy clinic. For a start, owner and Chief Physiotherapist Paul Espe is the only certified provider of Active Release Technique (ART) in Spain. He’s also one of only seven licensed ART instructors in Europe. Spain Life Exclusive caught up with Paul to find out more about his physiotherapy business, and in particular ART, which is a very specific manual discipline aimed at restoring good, normal function to the body by working on soft tissue in partnership ,with the patient. Paul told me:
Anyone can work with ART if they are good with their hands, but unless they have a thorough working knowledge of physiology and anatomy, they are going to be like a deer caught in the headlights. To be an effective ART Provider, you need extensive extra training, because as well as learning the different techniques, you have to refresh your knowledge regularly to stay up to date with treatment.
The unique advantage of ART is that the patient is proactive in the treatment, and it’s a purely manual procedure, no machines, no drugs, just a natural method of movement to restore function and aid holistic healing.
What is Active Release Technique (ART)?
ART was developed by Doctor P. Michael Leahy, an aircraft engineer who became a chiropracter in 1984 on leaving the Air Force. By 1988, he’d formalised his soft tissue treatments for athletes with injuries into a patented discipline which now has over 19,000 licensed providers and has helped more than 100 million people globally to move better, feel better and live better.
It takes many years of post graduate study to become proficient in ART, and even more years of training to become an instructor as well as a provider. Any dedicated health professionals can add ART to their skills set, including:
- Massage therapists
- Orthopaedic specialists
- Other physical therapists
ART works by identifying, isolating and targeting areas of scar tissue which prevent easy muscle glide and limit movement, as well as causing pain and stiffness. It’s particularly effective for nerve entrapment conditions like sciatica, which can be very difficult to treat with conventional methods.
I asked Paul to explain the ‘Active’ part of the equation, and he told me:
ART is a form of massage, but we combine that with specific movement from the patient. There are more than 900 moves, unique to ART, which enable me to identify and work on whatever is limiting movement in the patient. The active bit comes in when I touch the patient and ask them to make a specific movement. ART is about quality, not quantity, it’s a uniquely targeted therapy, aimed at finding the exact source of the problem.
The great thing about ART is that it’s tightly regulated and quality controlled. You can’t just set up as an ART Provider after watching a few YouTube videos and getting a certificate from an online course. Instructors in ART must be invited to train to instruct others, and everyone who learns ART practises their techniques on other ART students, so they can give knowledgeable feedback. Providers and instructors must also refresh their knowledge each year, otherwise they can’t remain on the database of certified ART Providers.
If you are fortunate enough to experience an ART session with Paul, you can be sure you are in safe, experienced hands. Not only that, once Paul has worked his magic and restored normal movement and function, his colleague and fellow physiotherapist Emma can help to strengthen weak muscles which may have suffered through over compensation to avoid too much stress on painful tissues. It’s natural that if something hurts, we try not to use it so much, but that just moves the problem elsewhere.
How Physioplus Albir came into existence
Paul Espe moved to Spain in 2014, and worked as a physiotherapist for four years. Previously, he ran his own clinic for 10 years in Norway, and has worked in physiotherapy for 23 years.
In 2018, he acquired the building that is now home to Physioplus. It’s a large commercial area, with 280 square metres of space, and Paul has made full use of every inch – or should that be centimetre? Physioplus has a large gym, fully equipped for functional training, and one of only two public golf simulators in the area.
So this bright, modern clinic can deal with pretty much anything that walks – or maybe limps – through the door. However, any clinic is only as good as its physiotherapists, and Paul is proud of his team, consisting of Emma, Jessica and Maria, who complement his treatments, as well as each providing various specialised treatments aimed at optimal physical and mental well-being. We’ll learn more about the ladies in a future Physioplus feature for Spain Life Exclusive.
What conditions is ART particularly helpful for?
The answer to this is – How long have you got? ART treatment can help with:
- Muscle strain anywhere in the body
- Chronic pain, whether recent or established
- Inflammatory conditions such as tennis elbow
- Trapped nerves
- Tension headaches
- Trauma from acute conditions such as muscle pulls and tears
- Lack of oxygen to the soft tissues (hypoxia)
Your ART session with Paul will combine examination with treatment, and you may see results much sooner than you think. But the best news of all is that ART can help with anything and everything. As Paul explains:
ART is about prevention as much as treatment. Yes, it’s effective in breaking down scar tissue and adhesions and improving muscle and nerve freedom, but it can also bring more out of your body. Athletes have ART to maximise their performance, and if you find as you get older, your natural movement slows down, ART can help with that too.
In summary, then Active Release Technique (ART) is a non-invasive, soft tissue treatment, where physiotherapists like Paul work in partnership with the patient to restore normal function and movement. As the therapist works with his hands and the patient moves according to his specific instructions, adhesions and scar tissue are broken down, allowing better muscle glide and more freedom of movement.
ART is only available in Spain at Physioplus Albir. The clinic also offers all the treatments you would expect from a good clinic specialising in physical therapies. Contact Paul and his team on the contact details below for advice on how ART and Physioplus can help you move better, feel better, live better.
Camí de la Cantera, 12, Local 2, 03581 L’Albir, Alicante
Telephone: 966 57 75 89