Why MAT / My Story
In January of 1999 I was working out in the gym. It was leg day, both my favorite and most agonizing day of the rotation. I was warming up with squats on a smith press, and didn't have much weight loaded yet. I had just done my second or third rep when i noticed and uneven feeling, like one side was getting more load than the other. So, I tried shifting around a little to balance it out when, without warning, my hips lurched forward. It was only for a split second and I don't remember feeling any pain; but, I knew something was bad. Within a day, I was suffering severe back spasms, the kind that limited me to lying on the floor unable to move without shooting pain. This lasted for about two or three days, which is a miserable experience for anyone, but especially someone that likes to be active. When i was finally able to walk again, I made an appointment to go see a doctor. They x-rayed my back and said I was fine, but to give it some rest for a few weeks. I did, and soon felt like my old self again; and so, I went back to my usual routine of lifting weights and playing racquetball. Several months later, without warning, I had back spasms again. I had played racquetball the day before but had not felt anything that could have caused these spasms. This time, on the advice of a trainer, I went to see a chiropractor. And, for a while, regular chiropractic visits seemed to make a huge difference.
About a year later, I moved and had to find a new chiropractor. Over the next six to seven years, I bounced from one chiropractor to another; but none were as good as the one I had gone to back home. During this time I regularly had back tightness and experienced several more back spasms that, as before, put me out of commission for several days. The cause wasn't always obvious, but squats was definitely a trigger. Then, after about seven years, I moved again; and would be on the hunt for another chiropractor. It took me close to two years, but I finally found someone that vastly improved my situation. On my first visit, one thing immediately stood out. He discovered that my left glute (max) was not firing; and, in addition to adjustments, he prescribed several exercises aimed at reactivating that muscle. It didn't take long before my back tightness went away. And, over the course of the next several years, I experienced no back spasms. At this point in my life, though, I realized that I would never be as good as new. I still could not do squats and I always had to do brace myself before I sneezing.
Unfortunately, I ended up moving again several years later and no longer had access to this chiropractor. Several months later, I was working out and without warning aggravated my back. For the first time in over ten years I spent the next two days on the floor suffering from spasms. After getting back on my feet, I quickly sought out a chiropractor in the area. I found one that I felt good about and started going to him regularly. Then, one day while waiting for my appointment I noticed an advertisement he had in his waiting room. Some local guy was doing a demo on something called Muscle Activation. This piqued my interest because it reminded me of my former chiropractor that had stressed the importance of activating my left glute. After talking to the chiropractor about it, I decided to give the guy a call and made an appointment to go and try it out.
My first interaction with MAT was like no other. We delved into my history of injuries, surgeries and all sorts of other topics that no one had ever asked about; and something came out of that discussion that I had forgotten about and never even considered as being a factor to my injury and continued set-backs. About a year before my original back injury, I had rolled my ankle playing racquetball. While it wasn't a painful injury and I had had no noticeable limp, it had significantly reduced my range on motion. This change wasn't even perceptible to me, but it had changed my mechanics during squats. Because of this, I was no longer able to go as low in my left leg as I was in my right; and so, I had to alter my mechanics to compensate. This is why I had felt uneven and unbalanced and why I had felt the need to try and adjust myself.
This is the power of MAT. In recognizing how interconnected every joint and muscle in the body is, you are able to identify and address the root cause of an issue which may be somewhere in the body other than where pain is experienced. For me, Muscle Activation (MAT) took things to a whole new level. Not only did I bounce back from one of the worst back spasm incidents I had ever had and first in over ten years, but after a few visits I was doing things that I had previously conceded that I'd never be able to do again. Things like sneezing without having to brace for fear that I would throw my back out and being able to leap up onto the bed of my truck. Eventually, even squats were possible again. For the first time since my original injury, I felt like a kid again.
About a year later, I ended up moving back home (where I grew up); so I needed to seek out another MAT practitioner. The closest was nearly an hour and a half away, nevertheless, I dedicated myself to making the trip every week or two so that I could get regular treatments. This practitioner had many years of experience, tons of knowledge and insight and was very keen to discuss MAT and how it was helpful to me. The more I went for treatments and discussed it, the more I became interested in knowing it from the inside out. Eventually, I decided to attend the school and learn to practice MAT myself. It has turned out to be an incredibly smart choice as I have learned so much about how muscles, joints and the body move and work. It has given me a perspective into myself that has improved my life in ways I never knew were possible. It is a modality that is missing in my area and has the potential to improve the lives of people who have yet to find a form of treatment that works for them.