Frequently Asked Questions
Still not sure if MAT® Treatment is right for you? Check out some common questions below or get in touch with us directly.
What is MAT® ?
Over time stress, trauma, or overuse, and the resultant inflammation on the body result in a less efficient muscular system and diminished neuromuscular function. The communication between the nervous system and the muscular system can break down over time. This altered communication between the nervous system and the muscular system can lead to altered mechanics which can trigger symptoms relating to muscle tightness, pain and many of the physical complaints that we associate with aging. Then end result of a one-time physical trauma or a lifetime of micro-traumas is altered communication between the nervous system and the muscular system. Due to this altered communication, the contractile ability of the associated muscles becomes less efficient. This can lead to progressive weakness that leads to an increased susceptibility to pain, injury and long term degenerative changes. MAT® is designed to re-establish the communication pathways between the nervous system and the muscular system in order to restore muscle contractile capabilities. The main indicator of muscle(s) losing their contractile efficiency is limitations in range of motion (ROM). Through the MAT® assessment, we begin with a muscle-specific joint ROM assessment.. This allows the MAT® practitioner to precisely determine which muscles potentially have altered communication from the nervous system. The MAT practitioner will then perform a form of Manual Muscle testing in order to determine which muscles are actually weak. Once the weaknesses have been identified, MAT® practitioners are trained to employ two processes that are designed to improve contractile capabilities. The first form of activation is a muscle-specific palpation technique designed to stimulate the sensory receptors within the muscle in order to improve the input from the periphery back to the central nervous system. The second form of activation involves position-specific isometrics designed to improve motor output from the central nervous system back out to the muscles. As the Central Nervous System re-establishes it’s communication with the muscular system, the affected muscles will experience fewer protective measures, therefore providing the body with a greater a sense of stability, which in turn provides the body with more mobility.
What makes MAT® unique?
MAT® looks at muscle tightness as being a symptom that relates to underlying weaknesses. Whenever you have stress, trauma or overuse to the body, the resultant inflammation alters the communication between the nervous system and the muscular system so that the muscles cannot contract efficiently. When muscles can’t contract efficiently, they cannot shorten efficiently and they actually weaken due to lack of neurological input. This causes opposing muscles to tighten up. Many modalities focus on trying to loosen up the muscles that are tight. With MAT®, we focus on the muscle weakness aspect of the muscle dysfunction. Through specific activation techniques that improve the communication between the nervous system and the muscular system, not only do the associated muscles get stronger, but the protective tightening of other muscles goes away. MAT® works to improve a muscle’s contractile capabilities and the resulting range of motion and strength of that muscle/limb. By improving these aspects, a person will see an increased ability for exercise and physical performance.
MAT® differentiates itself from other techniques because it never attempts to directly lengthen or change the muscle by stretching, heating, kneading, or foam rolling. MAT® is not trying to “relax” muscle, but instead tries to “activate” the muscle, so that your body is better prepared to handle the forces that come from exercise and every day movements.
So MAT® is really a form of exercise?
MAT® is actually a precursor to exercise. In order to effectively load a muscle or group of muscles to gain optimal levels of strength and conditioning, you have to 1st make sure that the neurological connections are intact. If there are neurological deficits in muscle function, the muscles may not be able to tolerate the forces that relate to exercise. This in turn could set an individual up for a potential injury. Through the activation techniques in MAT® , you can prepare the body to tolerate the forces that come with exercise. This allows the muscles to achieve the desired strength gains while reducing the risk to injury. MAT® is an activation process that can be used as an adjunct to any number of other exercise and rehabilitation processes. MAT® can help an individual prepare for exercise, help someone sustain an exercise program, and support rehabilitation for certain conditions when deemed appropriate by medical providers.
What are the goals of the MAT® Process?
- To determine whether there is proper communication between the nervous system and the muscular system.
- To Identify which muscles are not receiving proper neural input from the nervous system
- To Improve the communication between the nervous system and the muscular system in order that the muscles can most effectively stabilize joints, tolerate forces and protect the body from injury
- To provide a system of checks and balances that enables us to identify and correct muscular imbalances that relate to altered communication within the nervous system
What about strength training, stretching, or even yoga — Can’t these correct weakened muscles?
- he answer is –not necessarily!. When you have muscles that have been weakened due to stress, trauma or overuse, the resultant inflammation alters the communication between the nervous system and the muscular system. This results in a neurological weakness that cannot be corrected by conventional exercise. This altered communication is like having loose battery cable on your car. Until you tighten the battery cables, the communication pathways are altered, putting a strain on the system as a whole. In the same manner, when you have this altered communication between the nervous system and the muscle system, exercise alone will not strengthen these communication pathways. You must 1st tighten battery cables, activate the muscles which in turn improves the communication pathways. Once activated, then you can get the full benefits from exercise. Until muscles are activated, through conventional exercise, the strong muscles get stronger and the weak stay weak, thus making us stronger in our compensation patterns. This can lead to chronic problems like tendonitis and arthritis and eventual joint deteriation due to imbalanced forces acting on the joints. The best course of action is to properly assess which specific motions are limited and identify which muscles are weakened through altered communication pathways and then to take a course of action to improve your muscle function.
- MAT® can help to identify which muscles are weak, and then give you the tools to address these weaknesses, so that you can get back to participating in the sports/activities that you enjoy from a position of strength.
How do I determine for myself which muscles are creating the tightness, discomfort, or loss of physical performance in my body?
We recommend that you visit a qualified MAT® Specialist and have him or her do a thorough assessment. A MAT® Specialist is highly skilled and trained with over 77 Range of Motion and 214 individual muscle tests, all done in a unique and proprietary manner to determine not only which muscles may be weakened, but also which specific fibers of these muscles. Check out our Find A Specialist Page to find a specialist near you.
Can MAT® have a positive impact on arthritis and the aging process?
MAT® is an muscle contraction based process that allows us to increase muscle strength and flexibility as we age. Many of the aches and pains that we relate to aging have to do with the progressive weaknesses that occur throughout the body, As muscles progressively weaken, they can no longer tolerate forces in the manner that they could when we were younger, This makes us more predisposed to injuries and abnormal wear and tear on the passive structure of the joints, potentially leading to arthritic changes in the joints Research on exercise and its ability to improve health is well established. When muscles are contracting effectively and can tolerate forces more effectively, we are more apt to see the positive changes that research shows the exercise can create. It is acknowledged that muscles are designed to stabilize the joints, so any improvement in muscle function may prevent the loss of physical performance often associated with arthritis and aging.
Many times a loss in muscle mass, or sarcopenia, is seen with aging. Because MAT® ensures that each muscle is receiving a signal to contract, when you exercise with load, your body will now have the ability to maintain or gain muscle mass, thus reducing or eliminating sarcopenia. This can also reduce joint stresses that lead to, or exacerbate, arthritic conditions.
For more information check out this video where the founder Greg Roskopf discusses how to reverse the aging process with MAT®
How do I know if I have a weak muscle?
The first and major indication is that something may not feel right. This can be seen as joint pain, muscle tension or instability of a joint, or in other words tight hamstrings, tight lower back, shin splints, aching knees, or a hyper-extended joint. Any feelings of pain or tightness can be signs of possible muscle weakness.
What causes muscle weakness?
A multitude of factors such as stress, trauma, or overuse and the resultant inflammation can contribute to muscle weakness. When you exercise, there is a period of exertion and then recovery. It is normal to feel fatigue. When there is stress, trauma, or overuse to the muscles, and the strength tolerance levels of the muscles have been exceeded, the resultant inflammation alters the communication between the nervous system and the muscles. The muscles can no longer recover properly, thus they progressively weaken. If this is habitual, (i.e. overtraining, undertraining, sitting at the computer for hours per day) then the result can be muscle weakness.
The central nervous system detects various forms of stress or overuse and creates a defense mechanism, which inhibits the ability of associated muscles to contract. When a particular set of muscles cant contract or shorten effectively, the opposing or antagonist muscles lose the ability to lengthen. This results in muscle tightness. The primary principle behind MAT is that muscle tightness is the result of muscle weakness. Thus, whenever you see a limitation in ROM its because the muscles that move you there cannot contract effectively, not because the opposite muscles are tight. The goal of MAT is to eliminate this “tightness” by simply restoring your muscle’s ability to contract.