When, and How Often, Should I Get MAT?
Beginner’s Guide to Muscle Activation Techniques: Part 2
When and How Often Should I get MAT?
Muscle Activation Techniques is a unique, non-invasive technique designed to improve the muscular system for people of all ages. The goal of MAT is to identify and improve poor performing muscles so that the entire neuromuscular system functions better. We discussed who can benefit from using Muscle Activation Techniques in our blog post here. If you are a candidate for MAT, when and how often should you seek treatment?
1. When you notice one of these three signs
In a previous blog article, we detailed three signs that indicate you need a Muscle Activation Techniques session. The signs are 1) noticing a difference in one side of the body versus the other side, 2) performing your normal activities requires more effort, and 3) your body “feels off.” You can read that article for more details by clicking here.
2. When you want to maintain your performance or increase your performance
We have two categories of clients that we work with here at AIM. One group seeks us out just for Muscle Activation Techniques sessions. These clients workout on their own and come in for MAT when they notice one of the 3 signs mentioned above. For example, a client who regularly lift weights at the gym, but begins to notice they can’t feel their shoulder muscles contracting like usual and they can’t complete as many repetitions as normal. This client books an MAT session and brings their body in for a “tune-up,” similarly to how you’d bring your car in to the mechanic if you noticed a performance issue.
Additionally, some clients seek us out just for MAT because they want to increase their performance. They still workout and train on their own, but they have decide to tackle a new goal or challenge. For example, a client who regularly runs, but has decided to sign up for their first 10K or an individual who booked a ski trip for the winter. These clients want to make sure their muscular system is in top shape before adding more miles or participating in a sport they haven’t done for awhile. This allows them to decrease their chances of developing compensations and imbalances as well as decreases their chances of becoming injured.
3. As a compliment to an exercise plan
The second category of clients we work with here at AIM come to see us for both Muscle Activation Techniques and Personal Training. During a one hour workout, MAT is combined with exercise to further improve the muscular system. This can take place in several ways. Often times, an hour session will begin with MAT before jumping into exercising. This allows us to thoroughly check the body before adding resistance and challenging the muscular system. This helps us catch any issues before they arise and ensures less opportunity for injury.
MAT can also be used in the middle of an exercise session. One of the many jobs of a personal trainer is to be highly observant of those 3 signs above. When one of those signs appear, we can immediately stop and address the issue instead of pushing through the pain or continuing through the workout and ignoring it. For example, let’s say a client is performing a chest press exercise and one arm is lagging behind compared to the other and the client comments they can’t “feel” their pec muscles contracting. This is a perfect time to stop, address the issue with MAT, then go back to performing the exercise. Just “pushing through” when something is noticeably off can increase the chances of injury, reinforce compensation patterns, and is irresponsible on the part of a trainer.
Finally, MAT can be a helpful tool at the end of an exercise session as a check and balance. Exercise is supposed to make us better, stronger and this should be observed at the end of a session. Exercise is NOT supposed to make us sore, stiff/tight, and weaker! Here at AIM, we use MAT at the end of an exercise session to “check our work” and make sure that a client’s muscular system is performing at it’s best. If, during the workout, we exceeded the client’s tolerance level in any exercise by performing to many reps or by using too much weight, we can address the issue with MAT before they leave our studio. Our goal is to always have our clients walking out the door BETTER than when they came in, not worse. This checks and balance at the end of a session holds us trainers accountable to our work and allows us to monitor progress with our clients. For example, if we increase the weight on the knee extension machine by 5lbs and at the end of the session we observe through MAT that the knee extensors are now performing poorly, we know that the 5lbs increase was too much and we can adjust a client’s program accordingly. This allows for a completely client focused and customized workout at a level that most people have never experienced.
But How Often do I need MAT?
Frequency depends on usage. If you drive your car a ton of miles and push it to the max regularly, you’re going to need to take it into the mechanic more frequently than if you drive your car around town and follow the speed limit. It’s the same principle with the body. If you regularly exercise hard, push your body’s limits and expect it to perform at a top level, you’ll need MAT more frequently. This is exactly why MAT had it’s beginnings in the professional sports world and is a favorite treatment option by the pros. This does NOT mean that MAT is only for top athletes! Everyone can benefit from MAT. We all have to take our car in at some point for a tune up, but if you want to start a new exercise program or are increasing your workouts, you may need more treatments than someone who is less active. Additionally, if you are noticing one of those 3 signs mentioned above, you may need more treatments until that issue is addressed. Our clients often start out meeting for MAT sessions one or two times a week, but as their issues decrease, our sessions can taper to once a month to even once every quarter. The bottom line is, each session is customized to the individual and there are no protocols.
If you are ready to check out MAT, contact us today for an introductory session or visit www.muscleactivation.com and search for a practitioner in your area.