Sunday, September 23, 2012

Muscle Activation Technique: First Session

I am still in retirement from running, but looking to find a way out and back to feeling healthy. In the past two weeks I have done very limited exercise, which stinks with all the great running weather we have been having. Two weeks ago I did an 8 mile bike ride. Last week, I ran two miles twice. The running felt good and my hip had some additional mobility due to, I think, working on different exercises from the Muscle Activation Technique (MAT) cd. The day after both runs my body didn't feel good, so it took two days to recover from just those two short runs.

I decided to try going to a MAT therapist even though it is a little over an hour drive away and yesterday was my first appointment. While it is expensive, I am thoroughly pleased with the direction that MAT is going. Everything that the therapist mentioned was exactly how I felt my body is malfunctioning and it makes perfect sense to my experiences and feelings about what is going wrong with the functioning of my body. Some muscles, around the hip in particular, just aren't working and seem turned off. Other muscles seem to be taking up the slack and tightening up, tiring out, and pushing and pulling from slightly different angles wreaking havoc on my alignment and stride. My compensations are winning. Here is how MAT works based on their website.

MAT looks at muscle tightness as a form of protection in the body. Weak or inhibited muscles can create the need for other muscles to tighten up in order to help stabilize the joints. MAT gets to the root of pain or injury by addressing muscle weakness rather than muscle tightness. This helps to restore normal body alignment, thereby, decreasing pain and reducing the risk of injury.

I think I was in there for a little over two hours, going over my history and talking about how the body works. The therapist was very impressed with my body's neurological ability to ignore pain signals for so many years, but I think I have come to limit of being able to do that anymore. He also found my body works fairly symmetrically although I have funkiness with my left leg. This may cause my body to not be symmetrical when running as the foot pushed my body out of proper position as well as causing many muscles to work overtime just so that I can have stability .

 On the basic level, MAT involves testing each muscle for weakness, then doing some small contractions with the muscle after which the therapist palpates the origins or insertions of the muscles to get them fired up again. Then the muscle is tested again to see if it is switched on and working. The interesting things were that the muscles that were inhibited let him to palpate the spots where I always feel pain or stiffness after a workout. The testing and palpations are very exact as he went over each small individual muscle. He worked on the muscles around my hip with the testing of my legs in various positions and with feet straight, feet toed in, and feet toed out. It was very interesting work. He also found my quads to be not working well at all, something I have noticed post surgery. They seem tighter than the did prior to surgery and when I ran I felt like I could only use a small portion of my quads for movement, the other parts just felt dead.

When the session was done, my hips felt light and loose, and I feel a slight "burning" or "coming alive" feeling to the front of my hips and also to my feet and legs which weren't even really worked on. I can stand up much quicker, unlike the "old man" rising out of a chair routine that I have been stuck with.

Next week we are working on my lower back. I have limited rotation there, he found out and I find it hard to look behind me when running. The lower back and side muscles are really tight. There are many muscles running into the pelvis from below, with the legs, and from above with the muscles around the core.

Overall, I am more than satisfied and very pleased with MAT after just one session. It was much more precise and interesting than I had even hoped for. My concern would be wondering if the changes will last. I am not to run, but to let me body process the changes and I am OK with that, although I was dying to try running with looser hips today. Retirement stands.

Here is a video of the founder of MAT, Gary Roskops, explaining MAT.


Muscle Recovery said...

Thank you for sharing your experiences to us. You can do a lot of exercise when you are going to retire running.

Zoma Rose said...

I just experienced my first MAT session today and my experience was almost identical to what you described! I hope you check in after a few sessions with an update! Thanks

Jim Hansen said...

My hips have felt great and balanced all week. I am very pleased. I have done no running like I was advised, but I have been itching to since I feel so much more loose and centered. Tomorrow, I go in for the second session and it should be for work on my lower back. Good luck with MAT work.

RunToInspire - Oliver said...

Going for my first appointment tonight - v excited

Jim Hansen said...

Excellent! I'd love to know how it goes!