Muscle Activation Techniques® (MAT) is a powerful service used to help assess the body and correct muscular imbalances by identifying limited ranges of motion. This non-invasive revolutionary technique is now offered at Cooper Spa by MAT Specialist Paige Cervantes who explains how MAT is beneficial for all ages and stage of life in varying fitness levels.

Variety of benefits for a variety of clients

With a background in licensed massage therapy and personal training, Cervantes is not only an accredited MAT specialist but also a certified MATRx practitioner specializing in hand, wrist and foot techniques. She has worked with a variety of clients—those rehabilitating from previous injuries or surgeries to those of us under a great deal of stress.

While most people may associate muscular imbalances with pain, those who aren’t experiencing muscular or joint pain may dismiss themselves as eligible candidates for MAT. However, this service is beneficial for people who are conditioned and deconditioned alike physically. “We all have muscular imbalances to some degree,” says Cervantes. “We are all either right or left hand dominant; therefore, we do repeated motions which challenge the same muscles over and over again.”

Closing the gap between mobility and fitness

Muscle tightness is an indication of weakness. “If a muscle is tight, it is more than likely protecting a weaker muscle,” says Cervantes. “Every muscle has a threshold of set resistance it can tolerate before it tears. This is why a muscle will begin to shut down in order to protect itself.” She notes that muscles can also begin to shut down due to other factors such as dehydration, injury, vitamin and mineral deficiency with stress having the greatest impact on the body.

MAT serves as a bridge between physical therapy and personal training. While MAT and physical therapy are both designed to discover the source of muscular dysfunction, MAT specifically uses weakness as the main indicator of the cause of limited ranges of motion or pain and then works to correct the issue. Once corrected, client-specific exercises are recommended to be done in a gym or at home to strengthen weak muscles and achieve balanced muscular function. MAT goes hand-in-hand with sports and fitness recovery by helping the muscles contract more efficiently during physical activity.

The MAT spa experience

It is also important to note the difference between massage and MAT. While massage addresses muscle pain by breaking up adhesions, massage therapists will not test for limited ranges of motion to identify muscle weakness.

Unlike other spa services, MAT clients lie on a table in comfortable clothing allowing the service provider to take the client through each range of motion test without restrictions. “There is a lot of communication in the sessions between my client and me throughout,” says Cervantes. “Based on their feedback, including level of discomfort or limitations in movement, I know which muscles to test and where to go next.”

Each MAT session lasts one hour and clients can feel the difference well before the session concludes. Cervantes recently performed an abbreviated MAT demo on a high school track sprinter who, after just 15 minutes, experienced improvement in the range of motion in his hips.

MAT regimen recommendations

For wrist, hand and foot muscle imbalance correction, Cervantes recommends individuals have a MATRx session as often as twice a week. For general full-body MAT assessment and treatment, she advises clients see her once per week. For clients who are no longer experiencing pain but want to maintain their results and simply move better, Cervantes recommends one session every few months.

Reaching one’s full fitness potential begins with reaching a full range of motion. The benefits of MAT are available to everyone, regardless of age or fitness level, who are looking for muscular balance for more efficient workouts.

Clients who are experiencing inflammation or pain or are recovering from a recent injury or surgery are encouraged to receive consent from their health care provider before beginning MAT. To schedule a MAT appointment or purchase a Cooper Spa gift card, email or call 972.392.7729.