MAT: A Different Approach to Strengthening Muscles and Joints
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A natural response to weak muscles might be to spend more time focusing on strengthening that muscle or muscle group in the gym. But that’s not always the correct approach.
Muscle weakness or loss of muscle contraction efficiency is always caused by something; the key is in knowing the cause of muscle weakness or immobility.
Muscle Activation Technique, or MAT, is a specific process designed to test the muscle functionality and determine why there may be a loss of muscle contraction efficiency. “It is a very finite specialty to track down individual muscle strengths and weaknesses,” explains Cooper Fitness Center Professional Fitness Trainer Christian Mazur. “Through its [MAT] application, we can test the body to find the source of a muscle weakness.”
MAT is an in-depth approach trainers (who have the MAT education and certification) can use to assess their client’s fitness, set goals for improvement and help the client see and understand what areas of strength they need to work on in order to find stability in a joint. It is also beneficial in helping to avoid additional stress or strain to the joint.
At Cooper Fitness Center, every client receives a Functional Movement Screening of seven gross motor movements to assess mobility and stability. While this test can identify muscle tightness, it cannot identify the source of that tightness. That is where MAT comes in.
Muscle tightness is the body’s way of protecting a particular range of motion. MAT is a test, target and test again process. A Professional Fitness Trainer with MAT certification will first identify the source and specifically work the affected muscle or muscle group on the table in the MAT room, followed by slow, cautious exercises targeting those muscles in the gym. After spending some time working the muscles, they can return to the MAT room and test the muscles again to see if improvements have been made.
“MAT is a checks and balances system that allows us to test whether strength and mobility exercises are improving the muscles and joints or triggering further shutdown,” Mazur says.
Another way to look at the muscular system is as a set of fuses. If you overload one area, you’ll blow that fuse. Until you ‘flip the switch,’ by correcting the source of the problem, that muscle or group of muscles won’t work as they should.
MAT doesn’t force change on muscles and joints, but rather prepares the body for optimal motion and works to make improvements, strategically negotiating changes in motion and muscle contraction. Watch a video demonstration.
“I believe in the power of MAT,” says Mazur. “I’ve seen its benefits personally and in my clients. It’s not magical, but it is hugely effective.”
To achieve certification in MAT, a trainer must complete the 10-month MAT Internship Program followed by rigorous testing. Few trainers in the Dallas area are MAT certified. Cooper Fitness Center employs three fitness trainers and one full-time MAT specialist, who can each assess clients using the MAT technique.
For more information about the MAT-certified Professional Fitness Trainers at Cooper Fitness Center and to schedule a MAT session, click here or call 972.233.4832, ext. 4230.
Article provided by Cooper Aerobics Marketing and Communications.