As an MAT® practitioner, I am often referred clients who come to see me, for their first visit complaining of back pain. Most of them have tried one or more modalities in an attempt to address their issue. In many cases they have taken a medication in an attempt to help relieve and eliminate their back pain. I am guessing that all of you health and wellness professionals that are reading this have had clients who at one point or another have dealt with back pain. As a matter of fact, “about 60 to 80% of the adult U.S. population has low back pain”. Other modalities in the health and wellness industry often focus their treatment on loosening up and strengthening the lower back muscles as a remedy. In many instances, there is either no relief or the relief is temporary. In many of my clients, this is what led them to frustration and later led them to try Muscle Activation Techniques®.
Health professionals and clients don’t always recognize (or view it from the perspective) that oftentimes, pain is a symptom, not the cause of an underlying issue. MAT® practitioners are taught to think of pain similarly as to how you utilize the “check engine light” in your car. When the car check engine light comes on, you know that something is wrong, but it doesn’t tell you the specifics. In this situation, you have two options, take your car to a mechanic to get a professional opinion, or put a piece of tape over the check engine light and ignore the warning. Similarly, you have the same two options with your body. You can take your body to a “muscle mechanic”, i.e. Muscle Activation Techniques® Certified Practitioner, to address the cause of your pain, or you can take medicine to mask the symptom.
In the MAT® thought process; we are focused on determining the cause of the symptom of pain. We use range of motion comparisons as a way to find which muscles are not firing appropriately in the body. Limitations through ranges of motion show us where there are potential weaknesses in an individual’s muscle contractile efficiency. These weaknesses can be from stress, trauma, or overuse and can lead to instability and tightness in the body. When an individual is in a position of “instability”, the muscular system's natural response is to tighten up for protection. We liken this to walking on ice — typically your system will tense up to prevent you from falling or slipping. MAT® Practitioners are trained to assess the body to find the muscles that are not efficiently firing, leaving your body vulnerable to injury.
In the case of common lower back pain, weak muscles in the hips, trunk, feet, etc. can often cause the back to tighten up and cause pain. Certainly this isn’t the case in every scenario but often the “tight back muscles” are trying to protect your system from instability. Using MAT® we find that once the muscles are firing correctly (Contracting efficiently) in the entire chain, your stability through motion is restored and very often the client tells us that their pain subsides.