Myoskeletal Alignment Techniques' ingenuity and creativeness have kept me in the business of being a bodywork practitioner for 27 years. Two important reasons are first that it is a predictive tool based on displayed patterns and second, once you know what pattern you are going after, it provides many tools enhance your client's mobility and well being.
A hallmark of Mysoskeletal Alignment Techniques is the work of Vladamir Yanda (1928 – 2002), a Chek neurologist and physiatrist, and his upper and lower cross syndromes. This landmark work focuses on the interaction of the CNS and the musculoskeletal system which creates an integrated sensorimotor feedback loop. In what he termed the sensorimotor system, afferent information from the external environment is processed by the CNS which sends efferent information back to the motor system. This continuous loop provides an endless stream of communication between a person and their environment.
Yanda suffered from the effects of polio throughout his lifetime and, as a clinician, was familiar with Cerebral Palsy, Stroke, and other neurological disorders. He discovered that patterns of tightness and weakness in sedentary populations mimicked patterns of spasticity in those neurological ailments. He also discovered that some muscles become tight and facilitated while others become lax and inhibited when subjected to the same stresses. These patterns of protective response are behavioral and predictable across populations and are a reaction the prime movers make when the stabilizers give up their role as alignment facilitators. Prime movers tend to be two joint muscles while stabilizers are primarily one joint muscles, putting them at a mechanical disadvantage due to their size and proximity to the joint. They need to fire first to provide stability to the joint or they are overpowered by the prime movers. The upper and lower cross patterns emerge when the prime movers substitute for stabilizers and give up some of their power capability. Commonly, we see tight hamstrings in our clients who have an anteriorly rotated ilium. The subsequent lengthening of the proximal hamstring attachment requires a recruitment of the muscle to level the pelvis they attempt to flex and extend the hip.
Clinically, Yanda’s work in predicting future pain based on currently displayed patterns is tremendously valuable. Faulty movement behavior can lead to musculoskeletal breakdown and though perhaps non-painful, these dysfunctional movements can directly affect our client’s perception of their physical environment. Perception changes behavior and while tightness and weakness may vary between individuals, the patterns rarely do. The work of MAT in leveling the head and the tail is a vital tool in rebalancing the muscular relationships between muscle agonist, antagonist, and synergists. Subsequent corrective exercises, as seen in the course Motion is Lotion, reinforce the permanency of the new patterns.
Myoskeletal Alignment Techniques have continued to fuel my enthusiasm for being a practitioner as my skill level has increased. Due to its versatility, creativity is encouraged by the non-dogmatic approach which provides numerous options for the therapist to work with. I describe it to people as learning the alphabet. It is up to us and our clients to use it to write our stories. Here are five great treatment variables that can be used.
1. In or out of the tx room – One of the coolest things about MAT is that it can be performed practically anywhere. No table or treatment room is needed. It can be performed on gym floors, picknick tables, and airport lounges are all fair game.
2. With or without sheets – If you are performing table work, MAT can be done with clients under the sheets disrobed or on top of the table clothed. I frequently work on client in shorts and a tank top or jog bra and have found that most of the techniques can be performed if the client is draped.
3. Client positioning – If you know what you want to accomplish with the client, you can usually find a variety of MAT that includes supine, prone, or side-lying options that will work. Leveling the sacral base is one of the most fundamental goals of therapy and this can be accomplished with the client in all three positions.
4. Tools – As well as using fingers, thumbs, palms, fists, and elbows, MAT extensively uses bones as levers to move muscles. By increasing and decreasing joint angles, the origins and insertions of muscles are moved closer together and farther apart. This can also be done passively or actively with the client.
5. New MAT Evaluation Course – Erik Dalton recently release a new “Essential MAT Assessments course” that includes both orthopedic and osteopathic tests as well as neurological ones to get to the root of your client’s pain. Included is:
·130 practical hands-on assessments
·Anatomy dissection and animation
·Range of motion, pain provocation and brain-based testing
·Tendinopathy, radiculopathy, and sports injury exams
·References to myoskeletal treatment techniques
Click on the link below to see a preview of the course.
“If you don’t know what’s broken, you can’t fix it! Don’t be that therapist that simply rubs the sore spots and hope your client gets better.” Erik Dalton
Libert Myoskeletal Massage combines massage therapy and restorative exercise to treat and prevent injuries, as well as improve your physical performance.