Oftentimes, when we think of performance we think of athletes, musicians, actors and actresses, or anybody else that we may see on stage or on screen.  But, the truth of the matter is that each of us has to perform every single day.  We have to wake up and perform the various roles and responsibilities of our daily life.  We need to exercise, take care of our family, attend to our tasks at work, and fulfill social obligations.  From the boardroom to the ballfield, we all need to be able to perform, but we may often feel as if we are only surviving instead of thriving.  Fortunately, Muscle Activation Techniques® (MAT®) can help us boost our physical performance so we can do the things we love to do as well as we would like to do them for the foreseeable future.  Here’s how.

1) Improve Your Recovery

First, MAT® can help boost your performance by helping to improve your recovery.  Oftentimes, workouts can leave you feeling beat up, achy, and sore.  This is usually an indication of two things: 1) What you did during your workout was too much for the current state of your body; and 2) Certain muscles or groups of muscles have gotten stressed out from taking on an increased workload.

With Muscle Activation Techniques®, the goal is to figure out where there are muscles in your body that aren’t working well, or are underactive, and get those muscles working better.  (A more expansive description of what MAT® is and why it is important can be seen here.)  When there are certain muscles that aren’t working well, other muscles have to do more work in order to make up for the underactive ones.  Time and again we see that when our clients are sore, getting the underactive muscles working better helps to reduce the soreness.

Interestingly, the areas of soreness may not even be the same areas where the underactive muscles are.  For example, we had a professional basketball player come in a couple months ago talking about how his quads were really sore.  He had just had back to back games and three games in five days, so his body was pretty exhausted.  During his session, we addressed the muscles of his trunk and hips, and after doing so he stood up off the table, walked around, and proclaimed that his quads were no longer sore.

If you are not recovering well from your workouts, MAT® may be an awesome option to help improve your recovery.

2) Break Through Plateaus/Speed Up Your Progression

Second, MAT® can help boost your performance by helping you break through your plateaus and speed up your progression.  In my post, “Personal Training and MAT® – What’s the difference?” I introduced the analogy of a car’s engine and battery.  In that post I describe the idea of traditional exercise and personal training being a way to build up your engine and MAT® as a way to make sure your battery cables are connected.  While you can build up a big, strong engine with traditional exercise, if you have loose battery cables, you won’t be able to access the horsepower or torque of the engine.  And this is what MAT® can provide to your body, as well.

By assessing your muscles to figure out where your metaphorical battery cables are loose, we can address those muscles, allowing you to access all of the strength and power that you have been building with your training.  As a result, we often see our clients break through plateaus and speed up their exercise progression.

One example that comes to mind happened a few years back.  I was working with a woman in her early 50’s that was an experienced lifter and figure competitor.  After activating the muscles of her hips, she had a squat workout, during which her working weight increased 60 pounds from the previous week!  60 pounds!! That is a HUGE improvement.  What MAT® did was address the muscles that were not working as well, reconnect those battery cables, and allow her to access all of the strength she had built up.

If you are not progressing well with your workouts, MAT® may be a great option to help you break through plateaus.

3) Decrease Chance of Injury/Recover Faster from Injury

Third, MAT® can help boost your performance by decreasing your chance of injury and helping you recover faster from injury.  A conversation I have with a lot of my performance-based clients is regarding injury.  I tell them that one of the surest ways to decrease your performance is to suffer an injury, so preventing injuries and recovering faster from injuries can be a tremendous boost to performance.

Last week I wrote about how my muscles saved me from blowing out my knee.  You can read the entirety of that post here, but to recap, I landed awkwardly during a basketball game and thought I was going to rupture my ACL.  Fortunately, I felt all of the muscles from my hip to my ankle contract and tighten up to help protect me while in the compromised position.  This is just one example of how having a strong and efficient muscular system can help to protect you from injuries.

When it comes to recovering from injuries, the thing that always has to be kept in mind is that in order to be eligible to receive MAT®, you have to be medically cleared for exercise.  So, you may need to spend some time in physical therapy rehabilitating your injury in order to gain clearance.  However, once you have been cleared, MAT® can be a tremendous benefit to help you optimize your body and boost your performance.

A story that comes to mind happened a couple months back.  I had a professional basketball player come to me with an ankle issue.  The thing was, though, there wasn’t a specific trauma to the ankle the occured.  He just woke up one morning and couldn’t put weight on it.

By addressing the muscles of his trunk and hips, as well as of his feet and ankles, we were able to take stress off of the symptomatic area, allowing that area to heal better and allowing him to get back to playing sooner than expected.

If you want to decrease your risk of injury or help yourself recover faster from an injury, MAT® may be an appropriate option for you as long as you are cleared for regular exercise.

While there are many ways Muscle Activation Techniques® can help to boost your performance, the three most common that I see are by 1) improving your recovery, 2) helping you to break through plateaus, and 3) decreasing your risk of injury.  Remember, all of us have to be able to perform each and every day.  Performance is not just for the athletes and people we see on TV.  If you are wanting to see if MAT® may be a good fit to help you boost your performance, you can connect with a practitioner in your area here.

Charlie Cates

Charlie Cates is the leading consultant to high-level professional, college, & high school basketball players in the Chicagoland area for injury prevention, recovery, & muscle performance. As a certified Muscle Activation Techniques® MATRx practitioner & former college basketball player, he uses his personal experience & understanding of the game & player demands to create customized exercise options for his clients to recover faster & perform their best. He is certified in the highest levels of MAT®, including MATRx, MATRx Stim, and MAT® Athlete. Follow him on Instagram @CharlieCates!