Muscle Activation Technique (MAT) is a unique and practical approach to evaluating and treating neuromuscular imbalances that contribute to dysfunction and ultimately to injury. At the Center, we have one practitioner, JoAnn Brickley, trained in this discipline.
How does MAT work?
MAT has taken basic components of physiology and biomechanics and transferred them into a systematic approach for evaluating and treating pain and injury. MAT looks at muscle tightness as a form of protection in the body. Weak or inhibited muscles can create the need for other muscles to tighten in order to help stabilize the joints. MAT gets to the root of pain or injury by addressing muscle weakness rather than muscle tightness. This helps to restore normal body alignment, thereby, decreasing pain and reducing the risk of injury.
Some people believe that if you work a weak muscle as part of a chain, it will eventually strengthen to its balanced strength ratio to the other muscles of that chain. This is not true, according to Greg Roskopf, MA, founder Muscle Activation Techniques, who teaches that “functional training” (integrated exercise) will only reinforce compensatory patterns if the weak links are not first identified and eliminated. The MAT trainer treats the neuromuscular inhibition and the resulting tension/protective mechanisms in the antagonists that restrict range of motion.
What is the process of performing MAT?
MAT is done as a four step process, which may need to be repeated a number of times.
- The first step is to perform a joint-specific range of motion exam. This evaluation is designed to identify limitations in motion as well as any asymmetrical motion. The physiology behind the MAT range of motion exam is that when muscle tightness is noticed, it is really a representation of muscle weakness. This philosophy leverages concepts relating to the law of reciprocal inhibition.
- Once a limitation in range of motion is identified, the particular muscles that move the joint into that position must be evaluated in order to determine if there is proper neurological input. To accomplish this, isolated strength tests are performed in the shortened position of each muscle. This is not a typical strength test. Rather, it is a neuro-proprioceptive response test designed to evaluate whether there is proper neuro input to the muscle.
- Upon completing the strength test, the practitioner uses precise palpation of the origin and insertion of the muscle to create a strong neuro input. This activates the muscle that has been shut down, helping to create stability around the joint and ultimately causing better range of motion and biomechanical balance.
- Finally, we prescribe specific isometric exercises to keep the muscle activated and strong.
What types of clients are good candidates for MAT?
Any client who experiences muscle or joint pain, has back problems, or is experiencing chronic weakness or range of motion limitations is a potential candidate for MAT.