Joint injuries and injuries to passive tissues such as ligaments and discs are ever-present in our society today.  Whether it is rupturing a meniscus or an ACL or herniating a disc, it seems as if both competitive athletes and weekend warriors alike are commonly plagued by injuries to the passive tissues of their body.  With these types of injuries only becoming more commonplace from high school athletes to middle-aged rec-leaguers, the question of, “What can be done to help prevent these types of injuries?” naturally comes up.  Fortunately, there is something that can be done, and the answer lies in the active tissues of the body – the skeletal muscles.

Imagine your car.  It is made up of many different component parts, such as the axles, the wheels, the chassis, the tires, the air in the tires, the shock absorbers, and various linkages that connect it all together.  Now, imagine you were to drive your car but you didn’t have any air in your tires.  Or imagine you didn’t have any shock absorbers as you were traveling down an unfinished road.  What would likely happen to the structure of the car?  During that one trip, probably not much.  But, after driving the car enough, the chassis would start to get beat up, the axles would get out of alignment, and the car as a whole would not operate well.

Related: 4 Early Warning Signs That You Need MAT®

In this example, the axles, chassis, and wheels of your car are like the passive tissues of your body–your bones, ligaments, discs, fascia, and cartilage.  The suspension system of your car (the tires, the air in the tires, the shock absorbers, and the connecting linkages) are like the active tissues of your body–your skeletal muscles.  Much like how your car will get beat up over time if the suspension system is not operating properly, the passive tissues of your body will also take a beating if your muscles are not working well.  With enough stress over time, this can lead to a number of different injuries to these tissues, such as ACL ruptures, meniscus ruptures, fasciitis variations, and disc herniations.

Fortunately, by improving how your muscular system functions, you may be able to reduce the likelihood of suffering these types of injuries, especially the non-contact and overuse versions of them.  Specifically, by reinstating and improving the ability of your skeletal muscles to automatically and reflexively contract on demand, your passive tissues can stay better-protected.  But, how can you go about assessing for where you have lost this automatic muscle control?  And, once you figure out where your muscles are not working efficiently, how can you go about addressing those issues?

Related:  Personal Training and MAT® – What’s the difference?

Muscle Activation Techniques® (MAT®) is a systematic approach designed to specifically assess for and address issues with automatic muscle control.  By figuring out where your muscular system is not working as well as it is designed to and then addressing those muscles directly, not only does your muscle contractile efficiency improve, but your joints, ligaments, cartilage, and discs can stay better-protected, as well.  This revolutionary approach to improving the health and function of the human body serves as a powerful precursor to traditional exercise and physical activity. Additionally, MAT®  institutes a way to help maintain the health and function of your muscular system as you age.

One of the roles of the muscular system is to help to precisely position your bones and joints.  Another is to help protect your joints by mitigating stress through those areas.  Just like how having the suspension system of your car tuned up can create a smoother and more efficient driving experience, getting your muscular system tuned up can help make using your body smoother and more efficient. Not only that, but your discs, ligaments, cartilage, and joints can stay healthier and better-protected, much like how your car will stay working better for longer with an intact suspension system.

If you have a history of injuries to your joints, cartilage, ligaments, discs, or fascia, or if you want to keep these tissues healthy and protected, you can find a list of certified MAT® practitioners in your area here.  Additionally, if you know somebody who has a history of injury to these areas or would like to keep their joints, ligaments, and discs healthy, share this article with them below!

Charlie Cates

Charlie has been helping men develop their strength and athleticism since 2008. A former college athlete turned sports performance coach at the collegiate and professional levels, he has taken his knowledge of athletic and muscle-building performance and combined it with an advanced education in biomechanics, physiology, and biochemistry to help men in their 30s and beyond build their strength and health without injury. A father of two, he has authored the best-selling book "The Exercise For Life Method" and hosts the highly-acclaimed Exercise Is Health® podcast with his wife, Julie. He is a certified full-body MATRx practitioner, the highest certification level of Muscle Activation Techniques®. In 2016, he graduated with a Master's degree in Exercise Science. Follow him on Instagram @CharlieCates!