Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT)
Do you ever feel stiff, tight or in pain? Perhaps you overdid it in the garden or ran further than planned. Perhaps are you so used to having an almost constant back ache that you just get on with it, assuming there is nothing you can do? Until I discovered Muscle Activation Techniques and found out that I didn’t have to accept being injured I was suffering just as you are now.
What is Muscle Activation Techniques?
Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT) is a series of processes to identify where you may have limited movement ability, and use gentle muscle 'pushes' to improve the muscle contraction. This relieves the body of stress and tension it no longer needs.
My MAT Story
Keep on reading below
I get it.
I have been in exactly the same situation as yourself. You try and do all the right things yet you either don't improve, or take one step forwards then three steps back. It is so demoralising but... there is help!
contact me for a no obligation chat about your situation
Do You Ever Feel In Pain?
Do you ever feel stiff, tight or in pain? Perhaps you overdid it in the garden or ran further than planned. Maybe you are so used to having an almost constant back ache that you just get on with it, assuming there is nothing you can do? Until I discovered Muscle Activation Techniques and found out that I didn't have to accept being injured I was suffering just as you are now.
We had just moved house, back in the mis 2000’s, when I fell down the stairs. I say I fell, but what I really did was miss the bottom step. It was very early in the morning, I was carrying two heavy kit bags, and I was keeping the lights off to avoid disturbing Jan. I reached for the downstairs light but was not, as I thought, safely on the ground floor, so I tumbled down, and my foot twisted underneath me with a loud CRACK!
So there I was, a fractured fifth metatarsal, foot in plaster for 6 weeks (not the best look when I was best man at my friends wedding a few weeks later), teaching spinning classes off the bike and generally garnering as much sympathy as I could.
Despite excellent after-care from the NHS I was unable to run pain free. Physio did what they could but running was awkward. Leg work seemed ok, so I was just hoping it would get better over time.
Snowboarding goes wrong
This was then exacerbated by a snowboarding jaunt in the French Alps. It had been okay, but it was a warm winter and I was finding the conditions hard going Even on top of the glacier I was boarding in a t-shirt just because it was such a novel experience. We decided to take a trip to the next valley - by helicopter. Totally worth the trip just for that experience. Sadly th snow was no better and I found myself left behind, stopping every few hundred metres to rub some life back into my leg, the pins and needles gradually developing into an incessant ache.
This whole experience flipped to one of the best things that has ever happened to me when, a week later, I was at the FitPro fitness convention in Loughborough and attended a lecture on Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT). Matt was talking about how the industry was looking at tightness back to front. Traditionally we would always stretch tight muscles, rather than asking 'why?'.
Why Do We Feel Tight?
Why do we feel tight? It isn’t because we are too strong. What happens when you step on ice? You tighten up, taking small steps as you can’t risk striding out. Why is that? You have lost your stability. The same applies if we have an injury. This leads to a lack of stability in an area and the tightness you feel in your body is a natural protective mechanism. This could be because of acute muscle damage (a fall or blow) post acute (overdid a session and have DOMS) or a chronic issue (reduced muscle function from an old injury, habits, exercise patterns or posture)
An Immediate Improvement
The concept of tightness as a protective mechanism made total sense to me, and explained why I didn’t always get the results I would expect to see in clients. I asked if I could be one of the Guinea Pigs and was promptly called up to the front of the lecture theatre. Standing up on the coach I did a squat that was evidently not as great as I had previously thought. Matt then ran a series of strength tests around my leg and hip, before getting me to do some isometric contractions – gentle efforts as I pushed against his resistance. He then checked my ability again before asking me to hop up and do another squat. There was an audible gasp from the audience as they saw the immediate improvement in my squat. It did feel pretty good, so I was asked to to do a quick run. so out of the door I flew, up the corridor and back again
Running back through the double doors I was ecstatic! Np pain in my leg at all. I felt great. I immediately took out my cheque book and booked a place on the first MAT Jumpstart course that was to be held in the UK later that year. And I have never looked back.