Are you injured or are you tight?
It is important to begin by saying that Muscle Activation Technique (MAT) practitioners do not diagnose injuries. For diagnosis of injury you need to seek advice from a licensed athletic trainer or medical practitioner. However, as a MAT practitioner, our thought process is centered around tightness. What is it? Why does it happen? As we have discussed in previous posts, tightness is a symptom your body puts in place as a means to protect you. Before we label a symptom as an injury, we ought to determine the cause.
Tightness: MAT Thought Process
Before we label something as an injury, we are trying to determine why the symptoms are there to begin with. Injury can either be traumatic (ex: broken bone or torn ligament) or present itself as a symptom like swelling, tightness, or pain. Check out the symptoms post for more information on this topic. Symptoms are important as they are a means of protection.
Since tightness is a means of protection, limiting your ability to move into unfavorable positions, we seek to learn why. You might be asking, why might your body be unstable in certain positions? Let’s look at how the body moves
You may have heard of the term proprioception. For the body to trigger a movement (raise your hand) the brain needs to know the position of your hand in space. Within the muscle system lies sensory input communicators called proprioceptors that transmit length tension relationship information to the brain. Without this input the brain is unable to execute proper motor actions. With stress, trauma, overuse, and inflammation, sensory input information can be disrupted, thus leading to impaired shortening of muscles and potential tightness.
As a result, many times reduced ROM is due to limited communication of the sensory communicators.
When looking at tightness, an essential term to understand is the law of reciprocal inhibition. The law of reciprocal inhibition states that when the brain sends a signal for muscles to shorten another signal is sent to other muscles to lengthen. This affiliation is critical for proper movement, but when there is a dysfunction in the relationship some muscles may become overly tonic and present themselves as being tight. Rather than trying to increase the length of the muscles that are unable to lengthen, MAT practitioners improve neurological communication between muscles and brain to increase muscular shortening to reduce overly tight muscles. This is why tightness is a clue to the puzzle because it drives our process in determining which muscles may be unable to shorten properly
The question then arises: which muscles are not sending information? MAT practitioners understand the body on a very high level and are able to pinpoint and test which muscles are not sending information. These muscles will show up weak during isolated tests.
Tightness is secondary to weakness- cause of injury.
Ask yourself, are you injured or is your tightness a means to protect you because of muscular system dysfunction?
At the Athletic Training Institute, with the utilization of Muscle Activation we look to see what muscles are not working properly, addressing tightness which could lead to injury if not corrected.
Tightness vs Injury: A MAT Perspective