Muscle Activation Therapy is an alternative injury recovery strategy. Those who practice it believe that the muscle tightness that frequently leads to injury, particularly recurring injury, is a symptom of the underlying cause -- weakness in a particular muscle that leads to the tension or tightness of surrounding muscles as a mode of compensation. The goal of Muscle Activation Therapy is to identify and strengthen this weak muscle to allow your body to become more flexible, strong and healthy naturally.
A Muscle Activation Therapist's goal will be similar to that of any physical therapist -- to treat your chronic pain or injury through a variety of targeted stretching and strengthening exercises. Muscle Activation Therapy is different, however, in that it attempts to identify the underlying cause of the injury, rather than simply the injured body part itself. As Derrek Taber wrote for Texas Outside, "MAT treats the causes of your pain or tightness, not symptoms."
There is no question that many people have experienced dramatic results in injury recovery while participating either exclusively or non-exclusively in Muscle Activation Therapy. The Neuromuscular Training Institute promotes education in and study of a variety of physical therapies and massage techniques, including M.A.T. Of test subject that the Institute evaluated, 100 percent felt some degree of improvement, while 90 percent were satisfied with the results of the treatment. Test subjects suffered from a variety of types and degrees of injury.
As of 2011, there had been no scientific evidence that Muscle Activation Therapy can lead to any actual physical harm to the subject. Not only do the majority of test subjects report improvements in their feelings of physical pain, but they also demonstrate measurable, quantifiable improvements in the performance of the injured area.
The main potential problem that has not yet been eliminated, according to Scott Kroculick, MSEd, RKT, CSCS, the study report's author, is the possibility of the placebo effect or supplemental home treatments being responsible for at least a portion of the positive test results so far.
Study Results and Expert Analysis
Kroculick writes in his analysis of The Neuromuscular Training Institute's study of Muscle Activation Therapy effectiveness, "There is a direct relationship between compliance with home exercises (graded intensity isometrics, etc.) and ultimate success." However, he does not say that home exercises alone are responsible for the success of the treatment of the M.A.T. test subjects. In fact, he concludes, "Muscle Activation Techniques can be a cost effective alternative to many forms of treatment, provided it is given time to work."
The majority of the limited study results available to date indicate very positive progress caused by Muscle Activation Therapy treatments, as do many first-person accounts. Kent Sterling writes about his son in "Not Another Injury -- a Sports Parent's Lament"; "Ryan went to an M.A.T. guy named Chad Graham in Indianapolis ... on crutches because of an serious ankle sprain, and after an hour of work by Chad was running up and down the hallway with only minor discomfort."
Although the jury is still out regarding proof of Muscle Activation Therapy's effectiveness, there has been no evidence as of 2011 that the treatment had ever caused physical harm to those who tried it. Although it is unclear how much of your progress will be due to ordinary rest and exercise as opposed to the treatments implemented by your M.A.T. specialist, that you will experience some -- and perhaps dramatic -- improvement to your injury has been supported by studies and examples, including Kroculick's and Sterling's.