Restoring Flexibility with Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT)
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Muscle Activation Techniques, or MAT, is a noninvasive system used to restore symmetry and balance to the body’s muscular system by improving range of motion, joint stability and muscle strength. MAT helps the muscular system be more efficient and effective, which improves performance and reduces pain.
Paul Mossa, MAT Specialist and Professional Fitness Trainer at Cooper Fitness Center, explains the process and benefits of MAT.
Who can benefit from MAT?
People who have suffered an injury most commonly take advantage of this technique—which has been likened to massage therapy or chiropractic care—and they may experience more noticeable results due to a decrease in pain. However, everyone can benefit from MAT.
“Most people are unaware of their bodies and how they work,” explains Mossa. “You could have restrictions you don’t know about, but those could be identified, treated and improved with the help of a MAT specialist.” As a result, you’ll feel better, move better, be less prone to injury and your body will perform more efficiently.
How is MAT different from chiropractic or massage therapy?
Though often compared to chiropractic care and massage therapy, MAT is quite different from both techniques. “A MAT specialist is considered a muscle specialist who helps improve the capability of the muscle to contract and perform its function and activates muscle tissue,” says Mossa. “That’s the sole purpose of MAT—to identify muscles that are not working correctly and improve their function.”
MAT takes a biomechanical approach to making the body more symmetrical, balanced and efficient. It is a specific technique that focuses on the ability to activate a muscle and is based on finding and improving muscular imbalances.
What happens during a MAT session?
A MAT session involves assessing range of motion, testing the muscles to identify limitations and stimulating weak or stiff muscles by applying force with the fingers. This is followed by a reassessment of treated muscles. For example, during a MAT session, the specialist might note tight hamstrings, which indicates poorly functioning hip flexors. The hip flexors are then tested and stimulated to become stronger. If the hip flexors are made stronger, the hamstrings will be looser and will have more strength and stability.
“When experiencing tight hamstrings, the tendency is to simply stretch the hamstrings, but MAT takes a different approach,” explains Mossa. “Tightness is considered secondary to weakness. If weakness is identified and fixed, the tightness will correct itself.”
What are the benefits of MAT?
- Improved everyday movement and athletic performance. Poor muscle strength and flexibility and the compensation for those deficiencies result in more friction, force and wear and tear on your body because it is not functioning correctly. Inhibited motion and malfunctioning joints increase potential for injury. When the body is closer to symmetry—meaning the muscles are functioning correctly—the performance of the whole body improves.
- Reduced pain from injury. When MAT is used during the rehab process from an injury, the individual will experience noticeable improvements in pain.
How often should MAT treatment be performed?
Someone experiencing pain from long-term injury may require MAT treatments twice a week to find relief and return the body back to proper symmetry. Someone who does not have existing issues but wants to maintain range of motion, flexibility and strength may have an MAT session once a week to once a month.
“MAT is like getting a tune-up for your car,” says Mossa. “If you understand the value of having your body working better, you will place more importance on incorporating MAT sessions into your health and fitness routine.”
How can MAT be incorporated into a regular exercise routine?
Exercise creates stress on the body. With regular exercise, MAT maintenance can keep your body working as it should. If muscle weakness is identified, the MAT specialist might prescribe isometric exercises, such as stretching, using hand weights and push-ups, to reinforce the weak muscle. Mossa and the other MAT specialists at Cooper Fitness Center are also Professional Fitness Trainers and frequently incorporate MAT into their clients’ training sessions.
Performed by one of four Cooper Fitness Center MAT Specialists, MAT sessions are available to members and non-members. For more information, visit cooperfitnesscenter.com or call 972.233.4832.
Article provided by Cooper Aerobics Marketing and Communications.