Muscle Activation Techniques™ and Yoga Integrated Science®

YogaIS-26Here at Yoga I.S.® we offer Muscle Activation Techniques™ with Personal Training.  MAT is a systematic approach to the treatment of muscular imbalances. The first goal of MAT is to determine whether or not specific muscles that support a joint have the proper neurological input necessary to perform its function. Whether acting as a prime mover, synergist or stabilizer, each muscle must be capable of performing its function as forces are being placed on a joint. If a muscle does not have proper proprioceptive input, then it will not be able to perform its function efficiently and this leads to positions of vulnerability. The goal of the MAT evaluation process is to find out where the body displays these positions of vulnerability or weakness.

After identifying these areas of protection, the second goal is to attempt to improve mobility and stability of the joint. This is a process of increasing the proprioceptive input and the ability of the muscles to contract on demand when placed in a shortened position. The third goal of MAT is to provide a checks and balances system to make sure that any time joint range of motion is increased (mobility) that there is proprioceptive input (stability) through the new found motion.

While most therapies focus on treating the muscles with tension and/or pain, MAT gets to the root of pain or injury by addressing muscle weakness rather than muscle tightness.  MAT views muscle tightness as a form of protection in the body. Weak or inhibited muscles can create the need for other muscles to tighten up in order to help stabilize the joints. The goal of MAT is to identify the inhibited or weak muscles that are creating a protective response and then ‘jumpstart’ these muscles in order to improve their contractile capability. If the tight muscles are stretched or massaged—without addressing the root cause, the inhibited or weak muscle—then we may have violated the body’s protective mechanism. We must know that when we increase range of motion through modalities like stretching or massage, that there is also stability through that increased range. MAT provides the checks and balances system to make sure that this happens. That is why MAT is a great adjunct to all forms of exercise and therapy.

Our Yoga, Pilates and other strength classes at Yoga I.S. ® are built around this fact, that muscles cannot be stretched. Our classes are designed to reinforce and help strengthen inhibited muscles If that have been inhibited due to prolonged stress or sudden trauma, then moving into a position of vulnerability (meaning a position that contracts the inhibited muscle) will usually result in other muscles taking over the job of the inhibited muscles. This leads to the weak staying weak and the strong getting stronger. People tend to mask their weakness by developing strength in compensatory muscles. Over time, this can be dangerous as these compensatory muscles are being asked to do jobs that they are not ideally designed for. If the stress that created the weakness in the prime movers to begin with continued (habitual posture or repetitive motion – i.e. – ergonomically unsound work station, golf swing, etc.), then it is likely that the synergistic muscles will become inhibited over time. This can lead to joint deterioration and chronic problems like tendonitis and arthritis.

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The best course of action is to properly assess which specific muscles are inhibited and then to take a corrective course of action. MAT is a checks and balances system that will allow us to determine which postures, exercises, and activities involve positions of vulnerability. We will then give you the tools to correct muscle inhibition so that you can move back into these postures, exercises and activities more safely—from a position of strength.

Many of our students receive regular MAT treatments and supplement them with logically progressed strengthening exercise that can be reinforced in the yoga and pilates classes we offer. Many have cited feeling stronger and stable, the major reason why we feel so relaxed after Yoga. They no longer have to think about how to properly move to avoid injury. They just move! Many have noticed weight loss, stress reduction, and dramatic strength gains.

For more information, email us at lauren@yoga-i-s.com.  Our private personal training facility also offers some of the top resistance pieces of equipment today that will provide you with smooth, joint-friendly resistance exercises, often prescribed to our MAT clients. The official MAT website is:

www.muscleactivation.com

Lauren Eirk, MS, MATm, RTSm, E-RYT 500
MAT Jump Start Intructor

Reference:

Muscle Activation Techniques, LLC. (2013). FAQs about MAT. Denver, CO. Retrieved
from www.muscleactivation.com.