Sunday, October 7, 2012

Muscle Activation Technique: Session 3

This was the third weekend in a row that I went for a Muscle Activation Technique therapy session. I am going for broke and seeing what this therapy can do for my body. I am also hoping for the best. After my first session, my hips felt loose. After my second session, my body went hairwire. So this session was about finding out when wrong and using that to inform what direction to go. Actually, I shouldn't say, "What went wrong," because I think good things happened and it was just my body rebelling against so many changes to its usual way of doing things. Last week, I just felt my body body warring against itself. My left side felt all off from head to toe. The left side of my back was tight and compressed. It wasn't a happy week. I did not expect this to be an easy or quick way to change the way my body works, so I somewhat expected this rebellion somewhere down the road, but it still was a little unnerving.

I went over this with the therapist and he explained that is a process of finding out what works best. The first week we worked both sides of the hips. The second week we worked mainly on the left side of the body and down to the knees. One sided therapy can work for some people. but we needed to go back to working on both sides and to try more work above the pelvis.

The good news is that most of the tested muscles were holding their strength over a week's time, so that nothing was lost over the week. The one muscle that stands out on me is the left TFL (tensor fasciae latae). This small triangular muscle at the top outside of the hip is tight and does not hold its strength. It not only loses its strength over the week's time, but loses its strength after being activated in a session. It is a key muscle for the gait cycle. Its insertion point is at the head of the iliotibial band that runs down the outside of the thigh. It supports the iliotibial band and stabilizes the hip and knee joints. It helps to flex, abduct, and internally rotate the hip. If it is not working then I am overworking the hip flexors and other muscles to do its job. When I walk or run I cannot keep my leg straight  and the knee and hip rotates internally. I knew my femur rotated internally (knock-knees due to femoral anteversion), but I guess my whole left hip follows along. The TFL may be tight but it is weak, as the hip joint internally rotates the hip gets pulled along by the tight and weak muscle. I am told that this could be a neurological issue (see it is all in my head) as the central nervous system can't or doesn't send the right messages to this muscle. We are trying to get it to activate and recognize the messages. This could be something from birth or an accident, who knows?

We also worked on the right side of the body as my rigth trunk doesn't rotate forward freely (my left  rib cage always feels like it is twisted backwards and the hip seems "behind" the left hip. I need to practice this movement by doing small lunges (left leg forward and then moving my right side forward- or the left side of my torso back. We worked the psoas muscles, the right quadratus lumboron and other muscles like the obliques. We also worked around the iliac crest and some of the muscles going up the spine such as the multifidi and the other spinal muscles. I can't  remember all the muscles as we must be doing 50-100 tests and retests of muscles throughout the session.

I feel better today than I did all last week so I think the changes we made are going in a positive direction. It is just not one part that needs an "instant" fix. It is finding out how everything works or doesn't work together. The place of pain or discomfort may not be the place that needs the treatment. I like Greg's explanations of how gait works and falls apart as we talk, because it matches the things I have found that don't seem to be working correctly when I run. The good news is that MAT matches the type of thinking I have always had about my imbalances and I like the way that it is a muscle by muscle whole-body approach, Next week I go back for session four and more work on the hips and torso. He doesn't want to work on the lower legs for now as that does't seem to be the crux of my problem. He did say he has observed the way my foot functions and that I am going to find some amazing things happen when he gets to the foot. If he worked on them now before fixing things higher upstream, it probably wouldn't hold. There are a lot of muscles in the feet, so I look forward to what he can do with that. I have noticed that my left leg doesn't rotate out so much since the first session and after the second session my feet and big toe interact much more strongly with the ground. I have had to take the orthotics out of my shoes halfway through a day of teaching a few times as it felt like too much in my shoe. So even if we are not working there, things seem to be stabilizing a bit with the hip work.

As for running and exercise, I am being good and have not done any. I do feel itchy to get out there and I am really tired of sitting on my butt for over two years now without being able to do heavy training or at least a contiuous diet of even light running. My day will come and I feel I am on the right path.

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