At Muscle Activation Schaumburg, the clients that come to us for Muscle Activation Techniques® typically fall into one of three categories – maintainers, progressors, and optimizers.  There are distinct objectives for each group, and MAT® can help our clients reach those objectives in different ways.

Related: Are you a good candidate for MAT®?

If a client falls into the progressor group, it means they have a physical goal that we get to help progress them to.  For example, they may be a runner and they find that after running about three miles, their calves tighten up.  Their goal may be to run a 10K without tightness in their calves, so it is our job to help progress them there.  Or, they may be a parent who has young, active kids.  After chasing their kids around the house all day, their body feels beat up, achy, and sore.  Our job becomes to help progress their body to be able to tolerate that better.  Another example is an office professional who commutes in the car to and from work.  They may have a 40 minute drive each morning, and find that after sitting in the car for half of that time their back really starts to tighten up.  We may help to progress their body so they can complete their entire commute symptom-free.

Generally speaking, there are three ways we will help to progress our clients’ bodies.  First, we will help to improve the output of their muscles.  Second, we will help to increase the tolerance of their muscles to the demands of their activities.  And third, we will help to improve the contractile efficiency of their muscles.

1) Increase Output

Increasing the output of your muscles means your muscles can generate more tension or produce more force–in other words, your muscles are stronger.  Not only is declining strength a definitive marker of aging, it can also leave you less able-bodied and more susceptible to injuries.  In fact, strength training is often recommended as a reliable way to prevent and recover from falls and related injuries.  However, the focus of most strength training is on building the metaphorical engine, whereas the focus of MAT® is more on the neurological/electrical side of things, similar to reconnecting the battery cables of your car.

An analogy we like to use is that you can build as big of an engine as you want, but if your battery cables are loose, you won’t be able to access any of the horsepower.  Likewise, you can build your muscles all you want with strength training, but if they aren’t getting the proper input, you will only be able to access a fraction of their strength.  MAT® helps to ensure that all of your muscles are receiving the proper signal to contract so you can reap all of the benefits of the strength training you have been doing.  By increasing the output of your muscles, MAT® can help to ensure that your muscles stay strong, your joints stay protected, and you stay physically able to do the things you enjoy doing.

2) Increase Tolerance

Being able to do the things you love to do is awesome.  But, do you want to know what is even better?  Being able to continue to do the things you love to do day after day.  Often, the activities we enjoy most can also be the ones that tax our body the most.  Whether it is playing a round of golf, chasing the kids around the yard, or hitting the slopes all day on a ski trip, we all hit a point in life when we realize that our body does not tolerate the activities we love doing as well as it once did.

When we notice our body not tolerating the activities, it may come in the form of achiness, tightness, or just feeling generally beat up or tired.  A lot of times these symptoms occur because groups of muscles are not working well and, as a response, other muscles end up taking on a bigger workload.  Imagine you and three friends were trying to carry a couch up a flight of stairs.  With all four of you, it may seem easy, like you could carry it up multiple flights of stairs.  However, if your three friends no-showed on you and left you to carry the couch up by yourself, it would feel far more difficult and taxing.

Making sure all of your muscles are working well with Muscle Activation Techniques® is like having your extra friends there to help you carry the couch.  It evenly distributes the stress across all of your muscles and makes the job as a whole feel easier.  By increasing the tolerance of your muscles to the physical activities you enjoy doing most, MAT® can help ensure that you get to keep doing the things you love to do.

3) Increase Contractile Efficiency

Contractile efficiency is a fancy term that means your muscles are able to shorten and maintain any given length on a moment’s notice.  A lot of times, the focus with muscles is on trying help them to lengthen.  What is interesting is that, with MAT®, we find that the problem is actually the exact opposite — that muscles have trouble shortening.  As such, if a muscle is unable to shorten effectively, then other muscles are, by nature, unable to lengthen effectively.

The focus of MAT® is on helping muscles shorten and contract well when they are short.  What is neat about this approach is that by making sure your muscles are stronger as they get shorter, we are also able to ensure that your joints stay moving well and the muscles around the joints are able to stabilize them effectively.  For you, this means improved mobility and greater protection from injury.

Often times we get clients coming in who feel like their body doesn’t move as well as it once did.  It may be difficult for them to reach their arms above their head, lift their leg in the air, or turn their body to one side or the other.  They may find that getting up out of a chair or from sitting on the ground has become challenging.  Or they may want some more rotation in their golf swing.  Either way, by increasing the contractile efficiency of the muscular system, MAT® can help your muscles stay strong and your joints stay moving well and protected.

Related: 4 Early Warning Signs That You Need MAT®

If you have a health, function, or fitness goal that you would like to progress to, Muscle Activation Techniques® may be a wonderful modality to add in to your regular resistance training and exercise routine.  You can see if you would be a good candidate for MAT® by taking this short quiz.  Additionally, you can search for and connect with a certified MAT® 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. Follow him on Instagram @CharlieCates!