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New Pain Management Tool: Muscle Activation Techniques

My artificial hips are now 24 years old. As thankful as I am for my titanium and plastic prosthetic parts, I recognize my need to maintain as much range of motion as possible as I age. I heavily rely on supporting muscles, like those in my shoulders and arms, to facilitate moves that challenge my hips, like getting up out of a low chair. But the extra strain has lead to increased pain.

I am always searching for manageable ways to remain pain free, and I bless the day that I came across MAT, short for Muscle Activation Techniques. My initial encounter with a practitioner was at a swanky Chicago corporate health club where my friend Patty belonged. I was shown how to engage single muscles and concentrate on their extensions and contractions. It was eye opening. My only disappointment was that I was going home and would not have access to this type of professional expertise.

A few months ago I was delighted to meet Christine (Chris) Kissel, a local St. Louis area MAT practitioner.

I told her about my memorable first encounter. Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 8.46.05 AM

She treated me to a few sessions. She explained that we continue to stress or injure ourselves because we do not focus on the contraction of a muscle. Usually attention is placed on stretching and deep muscle massage when we are sore. But if a muscle has “forgotten” how to properly contract, it ends up interfering with the extension of the companion muscle, which results in pain and discomfort. Chris performed a muscle assessment and soon discovered which of my muscles needed reminding and proceeded with some focused therapy.

After just one session, I observed decreased pain and a better range of motion in my shoulder muscles. It is mind boggling that such a gentle therapy can have amazing results. Chris shared that professional athletes were the first to benefit from this approach to correct muscular imbalances.

I encourage you to give it a try if you have pained areas or injuries with reoccurring discomfort. Here is a link to the MAT website. You can contact Chris at kisseljjcr@gmail.com. MAT may turn out to be your new best friend in pain management. I know that I am thankful to have it in my toolbox.

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