Treatment for the muscular imbalances that cause chronic pain.

Muscle Activation Techniques
Frequently Asked Questions

What is Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT)?


MAT is a systematic and reproducible therapy used to identify and treat local muscular weakness.  Injuries, tightness, and joint misalignments can be caused by individual muscles not performing their role.  Typically the impaired muscle doesn’t experience discomfort; the discomfort appears in muscles that have to pick up the slack for the inhibited muscle.  Also some joints may become misaligned due to a lack of proper stabilization; this can cause repetitive stress and lead to arthritis in the long term.

The weakness of a muscle is due to a lack of neural sensitivity, the muscle still works, just not in certain positions.  So it is not atrophy in a traditional sense.  It is similar to having your cars battery cables come loose.  The battery (brain) is fine and the engine (muscle) is fine but the connection between them has come unplugged.  MAT identifies and plugs back in the missing cables.


 What is a MAT therapy session like?


A typical MAT session begins with a range of motion (ROM) examination.  The purpose is to identify the specific motions and movement patterns the body is protecting against.  The body will identify potential problems based on tightness and asymmetrical motion not necessarily pain.

The next step is to specifically test the individual muscles related to the limited or protected ranges.  Based on how those muscles respond to testing, the inhibited muscles will then be specifically addressed.  The treatment of an individual muscle is done by palpating its origin and insertion to activate it.  This is similar to a skeleton massage.

Once a muscle has been palpated it will then be retested to make sure it is properly activated.  When all the muscles of a particular range have been addressed then the body will open and tight or impaired motions will be alleviated.



How many MAT therapy sessions does it take to see results?


The first thing a new MAT client will feel is a difference.  There will be some immediate change, in most cases there will be some improvement.  Obviously there are a wide range of differences between clients and their issues, but most people begin to feel relief in 3 to 6 sessions.


How long do the effects from a MAT treatment last?

This is the most difficult question to answer because it has the most variance.  Part of how long it lasts is based on how long an individual has been dealing with a particular issue.  The nervous system adopts new ways of moving to compensate and to avoid positions of weakness.  It will take time for the body to escape these improper compensatory motions.

The next issue is if a client is doing something that the body is reacting negatively to, such as overtraining, playing too much tennis, golf, etc, or just poor posture.  In some cases too much stretching has a very negative effect.

Ultimately, treatment results will first last for days, then as subsequent issues are addressed and the body’s motions begin to normalize, treatments can last for weeks.  After that MAT therapy can be used more as a maintenance tool to avoid future issues.



How does MAT differ from Physical Therapy?


PT uses a mixture of therapeutic exercises, ultrasound, and applies electro physical modalities.  However the tendency in PT is to focus on the point of injury.  MAT is less concerned with the specific injury and searches out other contributing factors.  MAT therapy looks as the body as a whole.  MAT therapy systematically searches the body for the root cause of an injury.  It is less concerned with the injured tissue than why it hurts.  Many MAT clients are surprised to learn a knee issue could be related to foot or hip weakness not just problem with the knee itself.  MAT works well in conjunction with PT.  It presents another view on the same problem.



How does MAT differ from massage therapy?


Massage therapy improves circulation and helps to increase the speed the body removes metabolic wastes from skeletal muscle.  It reduces stress and helps promote a positive mental state.

MAT is designed to address local muscular imbalance on a joint by joint level.  It is much more specific and is only concerned with restoring function to a handful of muscles whose inhibition creates range limitations.  Again MAT seeks to find the root cause of an injury rather than focusing on the injured tissue itself.



How does MAT differ from chiropractic?


Chiropractic focuses on the relationship between the spine and the nervous system.  MAT therapy focuses on the skeletal muscle system.  Chiropractic and MAT can work very well if used together.  A chiropractor can put a spine back into a good position and MAT will address the muscles that hold the spine in place.  MAT stimulates inhibited muscles that hold the spine in its proper alignment.  If performed chiropractic first and MAT immediately following any adjustments will last longer.


What should I wear to an appointment?


MAT is performed in a massage type setting, but fully clothed.  Any soft fabric or gym clothes are preferable.  Please leave the denim and leather at home.



How much time does an MAT appointment take?


Most appointments last an hour.  Sometimes they can run longer though.  A MAT Specialist must address every muscle in an impaired motion before you can be finished.  So if there are several muscles that need treatment appointments can last up to 90 minutes.



What does a MAT treatment feel like?


This varies based on the sensitivities and issues of each individual.  Some people find that it tickles and others find it very uncomfortable.  Most everyone agrees that certain parts are sensitive and feel some tenderness.  In most cases individual muscle palpations only last for a few seconds.  The relief a client will receive long term makes it more than worth it.


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