MAT is a specific and unique process for evaluating an individual’s ability to develop efficient muscle contraction(s) by first measuring and comparing specific limb and trunk motions, as the human body tends to be symmetrical in its structure right side to left side. MAT is referred to as a “process” as there are hundreds of muscles and joints to be evaluated in order to uncover the muscular issues that could be contributing to the loss of physical performance and associated subjective complaints. This complexity leads to what could be many sessions of work, performed over time, to solve existing problems.
MAT’s premise is that human movement and exercise are fundamental to human health and that muscle’s health is important for normal movement. Any loss of muscle(s) contraction efficiency may be demonstrated as a loss of motion and decreased physical performance, which may lead to subjective complaints and/or the loss of physical capabilities.
MAT practitioners learn to view the human body as a mechanical system. As such, functionality of the muscular system is paramount for the health and wellness of the system as a whole. MAT practitioners are trained to scan the body for evidence of muscle contraction inefficiency.
Efficiency in this context is defined as the ability of muscle to generate and sustain sufficient force to meet imposed demands, within a specific period of time, and under specific conditions.
The loss of contractile efficiency is demonstrated as a muscle’s inability to shorten. Shortening is a muscle acting concentrically resulting in the smallest angle that a joint system is capable of achieving. This loss of shortening ability is synonymous with weakness. MAT asserts that this inability to shorten results in the inability of opposing muscles to lengthen. Many exercise and rehabilitation practitioners have labeled this inability to lengthen “tightness”.
MAT views “tightness” as a secondary result of muscle weakness
Within this context, limitations to joint range of motion become evidence of potential areas of weakness, and in turn instability.
The ability to achieve an extremely small displacement when an external force acts on the body to change an intended path of motion or position is termed “stability”. The term stability is synonymous with the term strength. When stability is compromised external forces are transferred to less suited structures resulting in increased potential for injury.
MAT asserts that human mobility (range of motion) is a function of strength
MAT practitioners work WITH their client’s bodies to make improvements by strategically negotiating changes in motion and muscle contraction by implementing the following tools:
Comparative Assessment of Mobility
A specific force application leading to the measurement of active or passive limb motion from a designated start position/posture, through a designated plane and direction, to the end of the limb motion. This measurement is then compared to the mirror image limb motion for the limb on the opposite side of the body. It is NOT a joint range of motion examination performed to evaluate passive tissue stability, joint surface pathology, ligamentous integrity, etc.
Active Muscle Contract and Sustain Assessment
A specific force application of a specific magnitude and rate of force application, set-up and delivered by the MAT Specialist, that assess’ the muscle’s ability to react to and meet that force. It is NOT a manual muscle “break” test or manual muscle test used as an indication of the body’s response to a chemical substance, nor a change in its energetic field, nor a positional post isometric relaxation technique.
Positional Iso-angular Contractions
A specific limb position/orientation and direction of motion generated by the client, into a barrier to that motion, set-up and maintained by the MAT Specialist. The MAT Specialist may use their hands and body to hold/guide limb orientations/positions and provide the barriers to motion during the iso-angular contraction. It is NOT Muscle Energy Techniques, strain/counter strain or post isometric relaxation technique.
DFAMAT (Digital Force Application to Muscle Attachment Tissue)
A specific force application to body tissue using the practitioner’s fingers – direct pressure applied perpendicular to muscle attachment tissues (tendons, aponeuroses) using the tips of the fingers instituting motion creating subtle tension on the attachment tissues, followed with motion lines that are perpendicular (cross hatching) to each other, maintaining the tension for a duration of 1- 4 seconds per site, releasing and then re-initiating the process, moving along the width/length of the target muscle attachment. It is NOT a soft tissue evaluation nor a manipulation to release trigger points, adhesions, Active Release Technique, move body fluids to and from tissue sites, etc.
The specific application and unique manner in which the DFAMAT is executed is not any of the following manual techniques which are taught in massage or other soft tissue manipulation schools: Effleurage, Petrissage, Tapotement, Cross Friction, Longitudinal Stroking.
MAT asserts that efforts directed at “improving” muscle function and/or range of motion need to address this primary issue of improving contractile efficiency. If they do not, these efforts will likely present an insult to the bodies inherent protective mechanisms.