Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT)
We use Muscle Activation Techniques, MAT, to help clients perform their Pilates exercises with more connection and precision. However, the techniques are not limited to clients' Pilates movements, they extend to all exercises and activities.
MAT is a method of training that seeks to restore strength and improved range of motion. It looks at movement limitations and assymetries within the body and then discovers the cause. It views muscle tightness and joint restriction as a sign of weakness and joint instability. Instead of trying to stretch the tight muscles, MAT focuses on the muscles that are testing weak and works to restore their strength and movement. It does this by improving the neural connection to the muscle and so removing the inhibition to movement, the cause. This is required before more comprehensive strengthening work can begin.
Tightness or restricted movement will always highlight some instability and weakness. The example often given is the body's response to stepping out on ice. This instability causes the muscles of the body to tighten up as a way of protecting it against injury. Tight muscles, when we are not trying to walk on ice, generally highlight some instability in a joint and simply stretching them can lead to more instability. The tight muscles are doing all they can to provide what stability there is because other muscles that should provide that stability are not contracting fully. The goal of MAT is to discover these muscles and then improve the neural connection, so they can contract fully and improve range of motion and strength.
A typical session lasts an hour and will include range of motion assessments, to highlight any assymetries in the body, neuro proprioceptive response tests (muscle response tests) to discover which muscles are not contracting fully and then the application of muscle activation techniques to reconnect and strengthen those muscles.