During the session on Sunday, I had more work done on my hips (primarily the left one), as well as the muscles around my knee (again mostly the left), and then some work on the muscles above my hips and back. Some of the muscles needing work were the usual culprits: the poplitius behind the knee, the QL (quadratus lumburon) on the left side (tight and weak), the TVA (transverse abdominus), and the TFL (tensor fasciae latae). The TFL seems to be the one that is tight and inhibited. As soon as we get it working, it wants to shut down again. I think the sessions are spot on and all the conversations about the muscles make complete sense to me and give me some answers to the things I have been sensing for years. I wish I had a transcript of all the things we talk about concerning the muscles and how they work as well as how MAT attempts to work with these muscles. To me, this seems like the most scientific and muscle specific approach I have yet undertaken to fix my imbalances and my running stride. Each muscle is tested in different directions and positions, then if it is inhibited, we do some isometric contractions, then he palpates the origins and insertions of the muscle before it is retested again. I am amazed by how a muscle that was weak, just minutes earlier suddenly feels solid and strong. He retests certain muscles again after treating surrounding muscles and sometimes they have held their strength and sometimes not, and we go back to fixing that muscle again. It is a very active therapy, as I am moving muscles and turning over on my front, back, or side multiple times. It was also a long therapy session and while my money is very tight, I think that I am certainly getting my money's worth out of these sessions due to the therapists time and expertise and the fact that I am noticing changes and how it makes complete senses to me. I am going back again this weekend. I am still cautioned not to run or exercise in ways that may reinforce my bad patterns and compensations, so I am still on the running retirement list!
That being said, as good as I felt after the first session, I returned home after the second one and started feeling stiff from my toes to my head. Partway through the session, I noticed I had a stiff neck, but didn't say anything. I may have had it earlier in the day. I don't recall. By Sunday evening, my whole left side felt like it usually does on my worst days. All the nice looseness of the previous week was gone. My toe joint hurt, my ankle, my lower leg felt rotated off my knee, my outside hip was tight as well as my glutes and lower back and I felt like a had a kink in my upper back and neck. All of this on my left side. Maybe the therapy was too aggressive, maybe we did too much work on one side, maybe my upper back or neck had something to do with it, or maybe it was just my body readjusting in another way to all the changes. It lasted for two nights and then last night I got up and shifted my hips a bit and there was a loud thunk in my pelvis (or hips) and things started calming down. I guess some muscles let go or something shifted back into position. The muscles in my legs are still tight like I have done some heavy exercise, but I haven't, however I still feel more balanced and can walk up and down stairs without lurching, holding on to the railing, or shifting to one side. My upper back and neck still are stiff so maybe that is something else, but I am writing it all down so I can remember when I go in for the next session.
Here is a new article on Muscle Activation Technique as found on the Hugo Anywhere blog. It looks like it was written for older people with mobility problems that may be more obvious (using canes and walkers), but if I don't get myself taken care of soon, that could be me in a few years. The article stresses a couple key points about MAT therapy very clearly. If your are interested in learning about the working of MAT, read these highlights from the article.
According to Greg Roskopf who began developing MAT twenty-five years ago, the key to building strength is through reducing tightness and increasing range of motion.
This technique involves palpating the muscle where it attaches to bone, called the points of origin and insertion, and retraining the brain to fire the muscle and connecting muscles...
Unlike movement-based therapy therapies such as yoga or Qi Gong, MAT is an isolate-based technique. Similar to the way mechanics works on cars, MATs examine the body in stasis as an integrated system and isolate the dysfunction. MAT practitioners want to know what you can’t do. When a movement is activating a muscle that is weak, other stronger, synergistic muscles will compensate. MAT aims to resolve the perpetuation of strong muscles getting stronger and weak muscles staying weak.
You can find out more about Muscle Activation Technique at the MAT site here (which I note has been recently updated from the earlier archaic design). This video gives a bit of a picture of a what a MAT assessment and treatment looks like.