WHAT IS MYOSKELETAL ALIGNMENT THERAPY?
MYOSKELETAL ALIGNMENT THERAPY
The source of chronic pain for many arises from very common imbalances and dysfunctional patterns in the musculoskeletal system. Most chronic pain can be relieved with a combination of skilled manual therapy and intelligent corrective exercise.
The Myoskeletal Alignment Technique (MAT) system brings together the most advanced therapeutic strategies to relieve, and ultimately correct, patterns in the body that lead to pain and deterioration. With MAT therapy, clients can reduce pain, avoid invasive surgery and toxic pain medications.
The human body is comprised of structural systems, such as the anatomy of bones, connective tissue and nerves, as well as functional systems, such as the neural signals that trigger muscular contraction. These systems are inseparably connected in a continuous feedback loop. Without a thorough understanding of how these systems work together, most common musculoskeletal complaints are incorrectly assessed and treated.
What Myoskeletal Therapy Does for You
Relieves chronic pain contributing to weak posture
Releases trapped nerves from tight muscles, joints and ligaments
Corrects atrophy, weakness and muscle amnesia in head-forward postures
Addresses breathing disorders caused by a drooping ribcage
Lessens pain sensitivity through graded exposure assisted stretching
Eliminates protective muscle guarding due to joint dysfunction
Improves sleep by lowering sympathetic nervous system tone
Creates dynamic, confident posture with innovative restorative techniques
Corrects sports-related tendon and joint injuries
Enhances athletic performance through hands-on proprioceptive training
Changes the brain’s mind about pain through targeted exercise advice
Prevents chronic neck and back pain due to tension, trauma & weak posture
How Does MAT Work?
Contract-relax techniques can make the nervous system less threatened by the movement… even if muscles aren’t permanently lengthening, trigger points aren’t being obliterated, fascia isn’t stretching, etc.
Active pain-free therapy signals the brain that the previously painful movement is now safe.
By doing this repeatedly, the nervous system will often start to disassociate the movement from the pain.
The MAT goal is to bring as much “good news” as possible to the nervous system.
The Foundations of MAT
The breakthrough Myoskeletal Alignment Technique (MAT) system brings together influential schools of thought that approach the human body from a holistic perspective, working with the reciprocal relationship between mind and body, structure and function.
Vladimir Janda was a European physician in the early and middle twentieth century. He was one of the first medical doctors to approach treatment of pain and musculoskeletal dysfunction with manual therapy and corrective movement.
His key ideas are integrated into MAT:
Pain is caused by patterns of overly tonic (tight) antagonist muscles and weak agonists. This distorts joint anatomy and neural function.
To treat pain, professionals must understand the cohesive relationship between the structure and function of the myoskeletal system.
Proper treatment entails finding and addressing the cause of pain, rather than focusing on the location of pain.
True healing comes from promoting functional endurance and balance of muscles, rather than increasing base strength.
The foundation of Western medicine includes Osteopathy, an approach to medical care based on respect for the body’s inherent ability to self-heal. Doctors of Osteopathy are trained in manual therapy techniques and natural remedies that they use first—before surgery or medication.
Key principles of Osteopathy are part of MAT:
Every part of the body is connected to every other part of the body through myofascial connective tissue.
By reducing impediments to proper structure and function, practitioners can assist the body’s ability to defend, repair and rebuild itself.
Manual therapy includes muscle energy techniques, which combine alternate stretching and isometric contraction.
Manual therapy also includes palpation feedback techniques called myofascial release. These boost circulation and lymph drainage, as well as promote the corrective stretch reflex of muscles and fascia.
Developed by Ida Rolf in the early 1900’s, Rolfing is an approach to therapeutic bodywork that focuses on working with the body’s connective tissues. Appropriate posture and ultimately function are understood as arising from an appropriate balance between the body’s relationship to gravity and the earth.
Key ideas from Rolfing that influence MAT:
Optimal function can only be achieved when the body is in proper alignment.
Correcting misalignment must include working with connective tissue to stretch the body’s fascia.
A combination of corrective movement and manual therapy is the best way to create lasting improvements in physical alignment and overall wellbeing.
Mind and body are deeply intertwined, working together in all posture and movement.
MAT is in Continuous Development
Myoskeletal Alignment Techniques is a term first coined by Dalton in the early 1980s. However, Dalton never stops developing the MAT system. Over the years, the work of Phillip Greenman, Serge Gracovetsky and many other visionaries in kinesiology and human performance have been integrated into his training programs. By teaching how to identify and correct dysfunctional, neurologically-driven strain patterns before they become pain patterns, he has created one of the most integrative and complete perspectives on pain management.
MAT practitioners learn how to take clients through a series of sessions in deep tissue therapy that calms hyper-excited nerve receptors. When the pain-generating stimulus is effectively interrupted, new memories can be programmed into muscle cells by inhibiting the chemical activation of pain, which allows the brain to downgrade its signals for chronic protective spasms.
Of course, effective bodywork depends on much more than intellectual knowledge. Dalton’s program also teaches the necessary skills for keen observation and compassion, and is based on the principle that the healer is ultimately within each client.