Chances are you have not heard of Muscle Activation Technique (MAT). But, athletes such as Peyton Manning and Matt Forte are huge advocates, among countless others who utilize this tactic on a daily basis. But, as a relatively new breakthrough in the realm of performance and injury prevention, many remain unaware.
Essentially, MAT identifies and repairs muscle imbalances, which are the origin of innumerable non-contact injuries daily. If you consistently train and perform at high speeds, your minute imbalances will worsen, eventually resulting in joint and muscle strain, deterioration, and, in due time, serious injury. These imbalances occur when the length and strength of muscles on opposite sides of the bodies (side-to-side) or antagonist muscles (front-to-back), are unequal, and thus extra stress is placed on the joints or muscles of one side. This stress is either compensated for by other joints or muscles, which causes pain (for example, if the ankles are not as mobile, the knee will have to compensate and thus pain will be causes), or the imbalance will result in injury.
To repair these imbalances, MAT follows a three step process. First is a range of motion test. In this test, if any asymmetrical range of motion is observed, every muscle that is associated with the asymmetrical movement identified in the ROM test is tested individually. This is step two. If any muscles are identified as "weak" in this test, which generally is composed of holding the limb in a position that requires strength from the muscle and observing the efficiency and ability of the movement, then it is assumed that this muscle is not recruited sufficiently by the nervous system. If a muscle does not receive proper signal from the nervous system, which can occur for a number of reasons, then it cannot receive neural signals and thus its force-producing ability is impaired. By applying light force at certain muscle connection points, the neural signal can be restored, allowing the nervous system to recognize it again. The muscle is then retested, and generally, it will perform much better.
MAT has demonstrated the ability to show immediate results. Not only does injury risk drop significantly, and pain subsides or even vanishes, but performance benefits have been observed directly after treatment. In fact, according to muscleactivation.com, a pitcher has been recorded at 10mph faster than just previous to their MAT treatment!
As a relatively new technique, there is still much to be discovered about MAT, but also much uncertainty. For now, though, it seems undeniable that Muscle Activation Technique has a good amount of value in preventing injury and boosting performance.
Founder/Owner of By Any Means Basketball