What is Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT)?
MAT is a specific and unique process used to evaluate, and correct, an individual’s ability to develop efficient muscle contractions, as it relates to any physical movement. It is unique because it works to “activate” weak muscles, rather than trying to make tight muscles relax. Interestingly, this process inadvertently relaxes opposing muscles, improving mobility naturally. MAT does not force change on the body, but instead works with it to improve flexibility and strength. The goal of MAT is to improve range of motion, enhance athletic performance, and prevent injury by increasing muscles contractile efficiency.
MAT sessions are conducted in a private, physical therapy-like setting, by an MAT specialist who has undergone intensive training and certification by Greg Roskopf, MAT founder and Biomechanics Consultant to the Denver Broncos. A minimum of four weekly or bi-weekly sessions is usually recommended to address injuries or pain. Each session is an hour in length, and consist of the following steps:
- Comparative Mobility Assessment: Motion of the trunk and limbs are measured using several muscle tests, comparing the right and left sides.
- Active Muscle Contract & Sustain Manual Muscle Test: If a difference in range-of-motion exists between the right and left sides, the MAT Specialist will ‘test’ the weak area by requiring light resistance from the suspected weak muscle.
- Positional Iso-Angular Contraction: If resistance is low (i.e. muscle weakness is confirmed), the MAT specialist will guide the less-mobile area through a series of movements so as to restore proper range of motion.
- Digital Force Application to Muscle Attachment: To secure the re-established range of motion, precise but light resistance is applied to restore the muscle’s efficiency, and “activate” its ability to contract better.
Who Is a Candidate for MAT?
If you have experienced pain, stress, trauma, stiffness, sports injuries, any loss in range of motion, or the ability to participate in sports or activities you once enjoyed, you are a candidate for MAT! From the 90-year-old woman who simply wants to maintain her basic activity level and independence, to the weekend warrior who defies all laws of “getting old,” to the budding athlete who needs every advantage to remain competitive and injury-free, MAT can improve your life!
Even a minor loss in range-of-motion indicates muscle weakness, which can be caused by a multitude of factors such as:
In these instances, fatigued muscles may not have the time to recover after sustaining a particular movement or position for extended periods of time. The nervous system, which controls the brain, nerves, and indirectly, muscle function, sends messages to the body when a muscle is stressed, thus altering its ability to contract effectively. This reduces range of motion, leading to muscle weakness.
Often individuals experiencing muscle weakness or loss of movement might be sent to physical therapy. From there, however, many are told to exercise or “stay active,” without much direction. Although the injury or immediate trauma has been dealt with, the underlying muscle weakness persists, making exercise, or even daily movements, difficult or painful. The good news is that MAT bridges this gap between physical therapy and fitness. It helps the body to recover, and prepares it for exercise.
- Sitting for prolonged periods of time
- Trauma (car accident/sports injury/health condition)
- Arthritis or fibromyalgia
What is the Goal of MAT?
Ultimately, the goal of MAT is to improve range of motion, enhance athletic performance, and prevent injury through improving the contractile efficiency of the neuromuscular system. In order to achieve this, an MAT specialist mush first determine to what degree muscles are functioning, and what areas of weakness are present.
After identifying the areas, and degree, of weakness, the second step is to improve stability of the joints by restoring the muscle’s ability to contract efficiently and easily.
Finally, the third step of MAT is to confirm that joint motion has increased. Progress can typically be seen over a period of several weeks, including but not limited to increased mobility and strength.