Having chronic muscle tightness in just one area of your body can be a real pain and even stop you from getting the exercise you need. When we wanted to learn more about fixing this kind of muscle pain we asked a specialist in Muscle Activation Techniques. Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT) help people to isolate the pain-causing muscle and discover the real root of most chronic muscle tightness. Here is specialist Jeremy Rucker with more on the subject:
If you live with chronically tight muscles or achy joints, perhaps, like whatever is parked in your garage, a tune-up is just what is needed. Muscle Activation Technique is a non-invasive approach to addressing the stresses placed on our joints and muscles. It is a discipline like no other.
Just as one would go to a car mechanic to fix various problems with their car, we also have need of specific ‘mechanics’ for our bodies from time to time. When our bodies begin to break down, we have a long list of modalities and treatments available to us: chiropractic care, orthopedic care, neurology, acupuncture and many more. When we have problems with our muscular system, we also have many different techniques that deal with muscle issues. One that distinguishes itself by understanding the mechanical influences of each muscle and the necessity of their interdependence on each other is Greg Roskopf’s “Muscle Activation Techniques”.
Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT) uses an in-depth understanding of the mechanical principles of the muscular system to be able to address muscular imbalances in the human body. It is these imbalances that lead to chronic and repetitive stress injuries. The human body is by far the most complicated machine ever created, with over 700 muscles. Without specific training, it would be very difficult to know where to begin in assessing the cause of these imbalances. Let’s address some common questions about MAT.
Q: Why Are Muscles Tight in the First Place?
A: When muscles become chronically tight or even painful, MAT asks the question, “Why is this muscle tight in the first place?” Mechanically, it would not make sense that a tight muscle is a “weak” muscle. Why?
Tightness in a muscle is a sign that that muscle is doing the work of some other muscle or muscles. Muscles don’t tighten out of boredom. They do so at the behest of the brain because of specific commands. Rather than see tightness as an indicator of weakness, think of it as a symptom that a particular muscle is being overworked—carrying out the duty of protecting the body from going into a vulnerable range of motion. In other words, a tight muscle is working harder because someone else is not able to pull its own share of the load.
Q: But My Hamstrings Are Tight… Shouldn’t I Stretch Them?
A: A typical treatment for muscle tightness is to stretch or even massage out the tight tissue. In light of the above, it would be important for one to ask if it made sense to loosen the body’s protective mechanism. Or maybe a better question would be, “Have you noticed your hamstrings seem as tight as the last time you stretched them?” If so, maybe they are tightening back up for a reason. Perhaps it would help to think of it this way: Would you expect a mechanic to loosen the nuts and bolts to balance your cars alignment? Or course not. Doing so would lead to more dysfunction when you take our car back out on the road. The same thought should exist with our bodies.
If the tight muscles are not the problem, the question can then shift to, “Where does the problem exist?” That is a difficult question that is not easily answered. There are many scenarios for why one area of the muscular system is tight and overworked. A MAT specialist will be able to zoom in on these issues with precision through a very specific mechanical process and evaluation.
Q: How Does an MAT Specialist Zoom in On the Problem?
A: Most people’s bodies are born structurally symmetrical.
That is to say, the vast majority of the time our bones are shaped the same on each side of the body. So when people move in asymmetrical patterns (as all of us do in some way), if it were not the bones creating asymmetries, the culprit we are left with must be the tissue that move the bones – the muscles. A muscle’s job is to produce motion and control and stabilize joints. If one or more muscles are tight, based on whatever stress exists, it follows logically that certain ranges of motion from one side to another will not be symmetrical when tested.
MAT uses specific range of motion evaluations of each joint to determine where these weak muscles exist. Limitations in symmetry lead a MAT specialist to certain muscles that could be weak and causing the tightness in other areas. Once the weak muscles are discovered and treated, the tight muscles are able to relax and perform their specific responsibilities. With the proper progression - treating muscles through MAT, and strengthening those same muscles – a joint can truly be functional when performance is required.
So, if you have ever experienced shoulder, back, hip, neck, leg, foot tightness, etc. from your workouts or day-to-day responsibilities, it is important to start finding out where the cause of the problem exists. The symptom of pain and tightness often exists simply because some muscles have not done their job. If symptoms are the only priority in treatment, the true root cause of the problem will never be addressed and the same chronic problems will occur and become amplified with age. Just as one would go to an ear, nose and throat doctor to perform treatment on the throat, it is important to go to a muscle specialist when there is a muscular issue in need of addressing. A MAT specialist is a “Muscle Mechanic” capable of addressing the muscular imbalances that lead to your muscular dysfunctions.
If you’ve never tried it out, see what you’re missing! Find a MAT Specialist near you.