At Muscle Activation Schaumburg, we generally have three categories of clients that come to see us for Muscle Activation Techniques® (MAT®).  The first category we call progressors.  These are people who have a health, function, or fitness goal that they are trying to reach and we help progress their body to being able to do so.  The second category is called the maintainers.  These clients are happy with their current health, function, and fitness and just want to maintain where they are at.  They may come in less frequently than the progressor group (every 4-6 weeks) but are very consistent with their muscle system tune-ups.

The third category we call the optimizers.  The optimizers are, for the most part, already functioning at a fairly high level but are looking for something to give their health, function, and fitness a slight edge over their competition or Father Time.  They are, as the name implies, interested in optimizing the health and function of their body so they can operate as close to 100% as possible.

For our optimizer clients, there are generally three areas where we try to help them with MAT®.  Each of these areas will help to take their health, function, and fitness to the next level to ensure that their body is working at or near 100%.

For context, we are defining “optimal” as having all options available to work at 100%.  In other words, we want these clients’ bodies to be able to utilize all of the strength that every single one of their muscles offers in all of the joint positions and muscular length-tension relationships they are able to attain.  From a muscular system standpoint, this would be optimal in this context.

1) MAT® can assess and address over 550 muscles in your body

The first way that we are able to help our clients optimize their health, function, and fitness is by assessing and accounting for the strength and function of over 550 skeletal muscles within their body.  By assessing how well every neurological division of our clients’ muscles are able to contract, we are able to address the muscles that are not working as well and make sure that all of their muscles are up to par.

Related: 3 Ways MAt® Helps to Boost Your Performance

2) Strengthen your muscles in a shortened position

The second way that we are able to optimize our clients’ health and function is by getting their muscles stronger in shorter lengths of the muscles.  There are three reasons this is important.  First, most injuries happen in a relatively extreme joint position.  Extreme joint positions, by nature, will have muscles around the joints that are really short.  By making sure the muscles stay strong in the shortened position, the joints can stay better protected in the extremes.

I have discussed in previous posts how the strength of my muscles in a shortened position helped save me from blowing out my knee.  This idea carries over to all of our clients and the various joint positions they may find themselves getting into.

Second, while many of our clients come to us and are already physically strong, most traditional exercises do not strengthen the muscles in a shortened position.  Most exercises do a great job strengthening muscles in a lengthened or more mid-range position, but few exercises challenge muscles in a shorter position.  As such, even our clients who are seasoned weight lifters find themselves weak in these shorter positions of the muscles.  As stated above, this is unfortunately where most injuries occur, so by filling in the gaps left by traditional strength training, we are able to sure up the weak links in their system.

Third, we find that by strengthening muscles in a shorter position, there is a carryover in strength to longer positions, and the research backs the finding up, as well.  What we see with this is by helping our clients get stronger in these more extreme and shortened positions, they see an increase in strength throughout the rest of the length of the muscle, as well.  In turn, their strength and function once they get off the MAT® table is increased throughout the entire range of motion that we addressed, not just at the very end ranges.

Related: 3 Ways MAT® Helps Maintain Your Health and Function

3) Increase your ability to compensate

The third way we are able to optimize our clients’ health, function, and fitness is by increasing their ability to compensate.  Now, this is different than increasing their need to compensate.  Having a greater ability to compensate just means they have more options to get the job done.

Imagine this: you are driving from your house to the grocery store and there are five different roads that could take you there.  Now, on a given day, you will likely take the road that is most efficient or that is the shortest route.  But, sometimes traffic is backed up or there is snow on the roads, so it is nice having other options that you can take.  Improving your ability to compensate is like having all of the roads open all the time without any traffic or weather issues.  While you still may always default to the shortest route, you have backup routes available in case of a SNAFU.

Muscle Activation Techniques® is a systematic approach to assessing for and addressing muscular imbalances and compensations.  As a result, we see that our clients are more resilient to injury, are stronger, are able to move better, and are able to continue to do the things they love doing.

If you are interested in progressing, maintaining, or optimizing your health, function, and fitness with Muscle Activation Techniques®, you can find a certified 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!