Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT®) gestation period commenced in the mid 1960’s in the USA with Dr. George Goodheart’s work, who developed 110 muscle tests with the goal to address the imbalances in our body’s muscles. Later on, he founded the International College of Applied Kinesiology (ICAK) in 1975 to study muscle functions.
Years later, other professionals like Dr. Allan Beardall and Craig Bulher were able to expand the number of specific tests and their application to more than 250 muscles. Its efficacy in top-level competition and in athletic performance was put to the test when applied to NBA, Utah Jazz players, who finished the season with the lowest number of lost games due to injured players.
Starting from all this previous research and work performed by these two doctors in the medical and sports fields, Greg Roskopf developed MAT® in the late 1990’s. With a B.A. degree in Physical Education and M.A. in Sports Science from Fresno State University (California), he collaborated first hand with Dr. Craig Buhler to create the first stage in MAT®, but increasing the number and specific type of muscle tests.
His work with the Denver Broncos (NFL team) led him to question why some athletes always injure themselves in the same areas, which were the ones always considered to be the problem to be treated. It was then that he developed MAT® based on all previous medical studies dealing with the role of the muscle system in the occurrence of pain, injury, or diminishment in athletic performance. Greg improved and expanded the number of muscle tests of his predecessors thanks to his expert knowledge in biomechanics and neurophysiology. Since then, MAT® has not stopped evolving as a therapy with a growing number of specialists around the world. Currently, Greg works with the Denver Broncos (NFL), Utah Jazz (NBA), Denver Nuggets (NBA), and treats patients of any age with the most complex situations at the MAT® headquarters in Denver (Colorado). He and a team of instructors provide training to specialists from around the world so that this therapy reaches everywhere and helps individuals anywhere in the world.
The main difference with MAT® is that pain, injury, or movement limitation in athletic performance are considered to be signals that something is not functioning properly. Our body is designed to move and the muscles are the ones in charge of accomplishing this function, in addition to providing the adequate control and joint movement. Any imbalance the muscle suffers will affect our ability to move and can produce injury. Stress (mechanical: repetitive movements, holding the same posture for hours, exercise, built up fatigue...; chemical: poor eating habits, dehydration, food intolerances...; emotional: depressive state, traumatic shock...; sequelae from a bump/hit, surgery...) will be the determining factor that will hinder how our muscles work optimally. This fact will also affect the adequate control of joint movement the muscles exert and could cause the occurrence of pain and/or injury or predispose us to experience them. MAT® addresses muscle imbalances that cause any type of discomfort in the locomotor system and provides a fast recovery process. It is also a great tool to prevent injuries because it optimizes the body’s functioning allowing the body to move according to its design and therefore avoiding that it may suffer pain or injury.
It will depend on the case and the chronic nature of the injury or the pain but, in general, effects of the treatment are felt after the first session. Due to the fact that MAT® addresses the imbalance that conditions and creates the current symptoms in the body, there will be noticeable improvements after the first session, although it will be necessary to have a number of session to avoid the problem completely.
ASSESSMENT OF JOINT MOBILITY: The MAT® specialist will apply it to detect asymmetric behaviors between both sides of the body. When some joint shows less mobility, this is a symptom that certain muscles are not performing their job of moving it correctly. This imbalance in certain muscles shows that the nervous system does not have an adequate control of the movement through the affected muscles.
SPECIFIC MUSCLE TESTS: Once some asymmetries and movement limitations have been detected, the MAT® specialist will decide which one to work on. Then, applying specific muscle tests, every single muscle implicated in the movement that has been found to be limited will be evaluated. Using this process, it will be determined whether or not a muscle responds well in its contracting abilities.
MANUAL STIMULATION OF THE MUSCLES: in case that the muscle does not respond contracting itself (there is muscle "inhibition"), it will be "activated" by direct manipulation of the muscle insertions in the bone in order to stimulate the sensory receivers in the muscle that are responsible in maintaining good communication with the nervous system.
RETEST OF "INHIBITED MUSCLES": Then, the specific muscle test will be repeated to see whether the body contracts that muscle once correct communication between this muscle and the nervous system has been reestablished. This process will be repeated with all muscles involved in the joint whose movement was initially limited.
ASSESSMENT OF JOINT MOBILITY: Once the phase of stimulation and reinforcement of the neuro-muscular connection is done, the specialist will again retest the joint mobility. This mobility will have improved substantially to the point that is symmetric with the one on the opposite side of the body, a symptom that the nervous system has more control of the movement. This shows that the specialist has accomplished a change in the functioning of the body by having eliminated the muscle imbalance that caused pain, injury or limitation in athletic performance.
MATRx® is applied based on patterns of movements and muscle groups that effectuate them, following a hierarchy and established order when working on them, with a total of 43 for the entire body. A MATRx® session will entail the following steps:
ASSESSMENT OF PATTERNS OF MOVEMENT: Should it be the first MATRx® session, the specialist will from the outset start working on the first pattern of movement. If the client has had some sessions already, the therapist will evaluate those patterns previously treated by means of specific muscle tests of those muscles involved in keeping that particular pattern working optimally. If there is any imbalance in any pattern, therapy needs to be repeated. If all patterns work properly, the next pattern according to the pre-established order will be visited and worked on.
APPLICATION OF SPECIFIC STRESS: Once the specialist finds the pattern to be worked on, he will effectuate its specific stress. The goal is to increase the ability of the muscles in that pattern to tolerate stress. That way, when the body is under that particular stress, it will be able to manage it without creating imbalances in the proper functioning of the muscles.
WORK OF THE SPECIFIC PATTERN OF MOVEMENT: Once the specific stress is done, the specialist will stimulate all the muscles involved in that pattern both manually and with specific reinforcement exercises. Then the stress process and manual stimulation will be repeated until, after effectuating the specific stress, the muscles in that pattern have the ability to respond and contract. This fact will ensure that when the body is under any type of stress, it will be able to endure it and it will therefore be more difficult to have imbalances that may predispose the body to suffer any problem. In case there is already damage or pain, this therapy will allow to overcome them more efficiently and rapidly.
This process was born from the experience and study, for over 20 years, in the application and practice of MAT® (MUSCLE ACTIVATION TECHNIQUES) by Greg Roskopf, creator and developer of this therapy. MATRx® is the evolution of this technique and potentiates even more the benefits that Muscle Activation Techniques may offer to improve overall health and athletic performance. In other words, it is a new application of the principles upon which MAT® is based, refining, improving, and making more precise its technical implementation to make a tool already powerful in itself greater in its potential.
The abbreviation Rx means Prescriptive Rules, and they relate to the prescription of a treatment by a doctor. In reality, they refer to the fact that this process is based upon the accomplishment of a closed protocol, as if it were a medical prescription.
MATRx® operates based on patterns of movement. In our body, we have a total of 43 patterns of movement. Each one of them engages a group of muscles. All muscles that belong to the same group share the same function when they move and control a joint, that is, they share the same pattern of movement. Among them, there is a hierarchical relationship and they need to be worked on in a particular order. From this concept was born Rx (Prescription Rules) tied to MAT®, because it is based on this technique’s principles to optimize the functioning of the muscles of the body but, when it is applied, it follows a prescriptive set of rules in the order and hierarchical relationship established by the patterns of movement.
The nervous system contracts the muscles in groups and according to these patterns, so when movement is needed, it utilizes a group of muscles perfectly synchronized with the goal to control the movement of the body and its joints. Making sure that this process occurs adequately is vital to avoid pain, injuries, o limitations in athletic performance. And this is MATRx® goal and the goal of its systematic application. In this way, MATRx® intends to work on all body’s muscles with the goal of making them more stress-resistant and to avoid that stress may provoke muscle imbalances that may cause problems in the locomotor system. The differentiating element of this process is the introduction of the specific stress during treatment. This technique pretends to "inoculate" the muscles against stress so that it does not alter the muscles’ functioning and make our body susceptible to damage. In case that damage has already occurred, MATRx® will ease the recovery process and time because it will quickly eliminate the imbalances causing this damage.
MAT® reestablishes communication between the nervous system and the muscles so that these may contract adequately when moving and managing joints in a proper way.
For movement to happen and be able to be controlled, there must be constant communication between the muscles and the nervous system. This communication can be hindered due to stress (mechanical: repetition of a movement, keeping the same posture for a prolonged period of time, exercise, built up fatigue...; chemical: depressive situation, traumatic shock...) or trauma (surgery, sequelae from a bump/hit...) experienced by our body that causes imbalances in the functioning of our muscles. If we experience any of these, the first consequence will be limitation in joint mobility, which is the result of lack of control over the joints due to an alteration in the functioning of the muscles involved in their mobility. If our body does not perform a movement properly, it will limit it in order to protect us from harm or injury. There will also be an increase in tension in some muscles. The nervous system will balance out the malfunction of a muscle or a group of muscles by increasing tension in some others that will become overused to compensate for those not working properly. If this imbalance is prolonged in time, there could be harm done in the muscle or muscles involved (strains, tendinitis, muscle tears) or the joint (meniscus tears, torn ligaments, herniated disks...). Therefore, MAT® will help avoid this situations by accomplishing an adequate muscle balance. If harm has been done, MAT® will remove the imbalances that caused the harm allowing a fast recovery without risk for relapse.
MAT® caddresses muscle imbalances that hinder the body’s ability to move and control joints properly and which are the main cause for pain or injury. Therefore, after an injury, and if the specialist was correct in the treatment, the client will feel a difference in the symptoms resulting from the imbalances that the specialist resolved with his work. This technique caused, with its intervention, a modification in the functioning of our body and directly changes the symptomatology that led us to see a MAT® specialist.
Stress of any type (mechanical: repetition of a movement, maintaining the same posture for a prolonged period of time, exercise, built up fatigue...; chemical: poor nutrition, dehydration, food intolerances...; emotional: depressive condition, traumatic shock, mental illness...); or trauma (surgery, sequelae from a bump/hit...); are the causes that muscles stop working optimally.
The muscle imbalance appears when the nervous system stops exercising optimal control over a muscle or a group of muscles and it is the origin of pain, injury or limitation of athletic performance in the majority of cases.
Yes. Anyone can suffer them and their cause is the stress level their bodies endure, and it does not matter what type of stress it is:
The more factors are present, the more probability that a muscle imbalance may happen and hinder the proper functioning of the body and therefore create a limitation in movement, excessive tension, pain, injury...
No. The main different with MAT® is that it doesn’t focus on the pain, the tightness or the injury as the problem to resolve; instead, MAT® finds the underlying causes of the symptoms and eliminates them. Therefore, it makes no sense to take any medication to cure or mitigate these symptoms because MAT® resolves the underlying causes and they disappear thanks to the improvement of the body’s functioning caused by the adjustment done with its implementation.
A specialist’s manual stimulation of the muscles may be sensitive for some people, but it is in general very bearable.
They will become permanent once the anomaly causing the symptoms is resolved. However, it is recommended to do a session regularly to maintain the body in its optimal condition.
When a client starts with MAT®, continuity is necessary to make the results that have been gained remain permanent in time with the goal to gradually spread the sessions so that the body accomplishes a state of stability where it functions properly.
Additionally, the specialist will provide a series of isometric exercises to reinforce the muscle or muscles that showed imbalances and hindered the adequate functioning of the body. The point is that the clients execute these exercises by themselves to maintain the optimal condition of the body and to avoid the reappearance of symptoms because they were caused by the muscle imbalance that the specialist resolved. Although the execution of these exercises will NOT be indispensable to maintain the results MAT® achieved, these exercises will indeed help the client feel better because they reinforce those muscles that were unbalanced for a prolonged period of time and hindered the client’s performance and wellbeing.
Individuals with pain, an injury, a limitation in movement, right after surgery looking for a fast recovery, those who want to try an effective alternative to avoid having surgery, seniors with mobility and control problems in their bodies, and even those who do not feel pain but want to feel more flexible and stronger. MAT® may also improve the quality of life of those individuals that suffer sequelae resulting from particular pathologies, such as ictus, medullar lesions, poliomyelitis, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis... that directly compromise the ability to move without pain or limitations.
An ankle sprain can occur due to a blow or trauma, or due to an improper step of the foot. In the case of a blow, MAT® will speed up the recovery on that foot by improving the functioning of the muscles in charge of moving and controlling it. If the problem is the result of an improper step of the foot or as the result of a reiterative movement, it will most likely be caused by an imbalance not only of the foot but also somewhere else in the body. MAT® will resolve the problem by addressing the muscle imbalances that caused it and recovering the sprained ankle and avoiding the same happening again.
In the case of a knee sprain, this technique will stimulate specific muscles in charge of moving and controlling the knee so that recovery will be sped up and will avoid any potential relapse.
Yes. The muscles move the joints by using the bones as levers thanks to the fact that the muscles are anchored into these. In this way, if a muscle is over-tensioned as a result of an imbalance, such a tension is passed onto the bone where it’s anchored. If this situation is prolonged in time, the bone could suffer inflammation. Therefore, the lasting and permanent solution is the not the use of medication to subside the bone inflammation, but finding the muscle imbalance that causes the over-tension and resolve it.
Yes. MAT® addresses the muscle imbalances that change the proper movement and control of the joints. Based on this concept, scoliosis is only a manifestation of an alteration in the proper muscle functioning that has caused a spine deviation.
MAT® can avoid the worsening of the scoliosis by stimulating the specific muscles that cause it. In some cases, the scoliosis process can be reverted, although each individual situation will need to be analyzed to determine the grade of improvement to be achieved.
A vertebral disk prolapse occurs when there is a tear of the intervertebral disk resulting from the exertion of excessive stress. This is the result of the muscles improperly managing the movement and control of the spine. Regardless of whether this vertebral disk prolapse causes pain, MAT® will resolve the imbalance that caused the degeneration in the vertebral disk and the pain—if there was any, and further damage to other vertebral disks will be prevented.
Other spine problems, such as sciatica, pinched nerves, lumbago, neck pain, back pain... will have the same common origin to be addressed: imbalance in the correct muscle functioning that hinder the adequate movement and control of the joints and it ends up creating a diverse symptomatology. MAT® will address the muscle imbalance to allow the body to function correctly, as it should be, by helping it overcome the symptoms associated to the resolved muscle imbalance.
To move a joint, the nervous system has to contract ten muscles and, if there are eight that cannot be controlled adequately, the remaining muscles will increase their level of tension. This scenario is common in the body and it’s technically called COMPENSATION. This is the origin in the majority of injuries of this kind. When two muscles must overwork themselves to compensate for the other eight that do not function property, these other two will increase their tension levels and may suffer harm in their integrity and experience a tear. Therefore, MAT® will not focus directly on the harm, but on the muscle imbalance that produced it. If the factor that caused the excessive tension is eliminated, recovery will speed up and at the same time relapses will be avoided if the client performs the activity that led to the injury.
Absolutely. Any surgery will directly affect the ability of the body to move and control joints or the affected area. The first indication of this fact is the limitation of mobility, and the second will be the pain of related discomfort. Both indicators are the result of both the surgery and the imbalance of the muscles as a result of it.
The nervous system will allow that the joint or the surgery area to move gradually more and will reduce the related pain, in as much as it exercises more control over the movement by the muscles.
Therefore, the best way to recovery is by stimulating specific muscles with different goals:
The pain or injury originates from some alteration in the functioning of the body that has become chronic and has caused symptoms, except in those cases with trauma that imply a torn ligament or a broken bone. In any other case, pain starts the moment a muscle imbalance takes place. This imbalance will modify the adequate movement and control of the joints and could lead to damage of any kind. MAT® addresses this imbalance with the goal to help the body exercise optimal control of the joint and thus avoid the occurrence of pain or injury or to help recover from these circumstances in case that they have already been experienced. If the factor that causes these symptoms is eliminated, the body will heal itself by repairing the damaged or inflamed tissue thanks to the immune system. Therefore, MAT® can be an alternative to surgery in many instances because it addresses the factor that causes pain or injury.
Of course. Our posture is the result of how our nervous system controls the muscles of that particular body. It is easy to understand that when we are fatigued, our posture will be impacted, and once we are rested, our posture will improve. The problem originates when a body position is maintained repeatedly for a prolonged period of time (days, weeks, years...) causing built up stress in our body that directly affects the proper functioning of our muscles. Therefore, in time our posture may worsen depending on the functional condition of our muscles. And it is impossible to change our posture by sitting "straight" or walking "straight." The only way to change our posture in a permanent, enduring, and safe manner is by increasing the ability of those muscles that modify or alter it.
MAT® is the ideal tool to ensure the proper functioning of the muscles in order to improve and maintain the correct posture despite the pass of time.
Of course. This technique analyzes how the muscles are functioning and optimizes the abilities of the body to perform more and better. To make an automotive analogy, MAT® would be the professional that tunes up all the mechanical elements of the car which, without having any repair to be done (experiencing pain or injury), it may need technical improvements to increase that performance and capabilities of the car. Our body functions exactly the same way: without experiencing pain or injury (symptoms indicating a mechanical imbalance), it is possible that there may be muscle areas that may need improvement so that they perform better. MAT® is the best tool to get rid of weak links in our body that hinder its real abilities and that, if they are not detected and addressed, they could in time develop into problems of any kind in our locomotor system.
This technique reached Spain in 2007 and, since then, the number of certified practitioners has steadily increased yearly. Some have educated themselves in the MAT® headquarters in Denver (Colorado), and others have done it in Spain under the guidance of U.S.A. authorized instructors. Only those specialists certified in MAT® possess the genuine, official expertise in such a therapy. Therapists who claim to have the same expertise in techniques that pretend to address muscle imbalances and call themselves specialists in Muscle Activation under a name or nomenclature different from MAT® are NOT trustworthy. Only professionals under the MAT® nomenclature and with official Certification issued in the United States can be considered Specialists in Muscle Activation Techniques – MAT® (MUSCLE ACTIVATION TECHNIQUES).
There are different levels of expertise among specialists. In Spain, there are specialists, therapists with Master level and those certified in MATRx®, the highest level of expertise in this technique and only within reach of those professions with substantial expertise and experience.
Gamma Bcn Activación Muscular has Carlos García, one of the first specialists in Spain and Europe, Master level in MAT® and MARTx Certified, one of the first in the world in achieving this certification. Despite the fact that he is certified in the most advanced level of MAT®, he continues traveling to the U.S. to advance his education to be able to offer the best to those who need his help.
Our concept of training is based on the information that MAT® provides us regarding the muscle functioning in a person. For this reason, we would rather call personal training muscle reinforcement It’s a question of concept: physical exercise tailored to the individual and based on the weak links detected and addressed by MAT® with the goal of reinforcing them. In this way, we will optimize results gained in the reinforcement session and we will minimize the risk of injury or pain from occurring. Getting in shape at Gamma Bcn Activación Muscular is a different experience because our starting point is our thorough understanding of the weak points in the client so that we may tailor the exercises in order to obtain the maximum benefit for the client aesthetically, physiologically, and psychologically.