Continuing on with my focus on influential people/holistic practitioners who have made a positive impact on my personal health, this week I'd like to introduce Rui Reis, a Muscle Activation Technique specialist, Personal Trainer and Biomechanics Consultant. I first met Rui quite randomly, via an internet search for an MAT Practioner - I had heard of MAT from a friend, and at that point was willing to try anything to help with the pain in my feet. I was working long hours in retail, standing on my feet the whole day, and as part of the store dress code, wearing high heels. I had acute plantar fasciitis, and doctors and podiatrists had prescribed only a new job (not an option at that point) and a pair of ugly orthotics (meaning I couldn't wear sandals or pretty shoes). The pain was so severe at times, that apart from work, I couldn't walk for longer than about 10 minutes without needing a break for my feet. I iced them every day and basically got used to living with pain (not particularly fun). I felt like an 80-year old, elderly before my time and unable to walk, run or do activities that I had once enjoyed.
I went for one session with Rui - he poked my muscles and did some strength tests, and when I stood up from the table, there was a noticeable decrease in pain - by about 60%, after just one session! I was overjoyed and continued to see Rui for another 6 months, until I was able to walk without pain and even run. I was also able to ditch the orthotics, and now I can buy shoes based on style rather than practicality ;)
I asked Rui to tell us a little more about MAT, how it works, and who can benefit:-
In a nutshell, what is MAT and how does it work?
MAT is a manual therapy that looks at muscle imbalances and muscle contractibility capacity. When there is a lack of muscle contractibility capacity, the brain goes into protective mode and doesn't allow the body to go into positions that those muscles would potentially take you. Therefore flexibility is reduced and there is the potential to feel pain.
MAT works using the premise that the brain may have forgotten about the connection it has with a specific muscle. This causes other muscles to overcompensate and creates imbalances in the body. By using different techniques (some of then from Brain Mapping Training*: origin/insertion, local vibration, imagery, Post Activation Potentiation) we remind the brain of the muscle connection and then use exercise to help strengthen and support the muscle and the muscle/brain connection. Before activating the muscle, we do a series of strength tests to determine which muscles are active (or not), and then re-test afterwards. The difference before and after is often astounding.
What conditions does it treat most successfully?
MAT doesn't treat pain directly. It finds the root cause of the problem and treats it. Pain reduction occurs often after that.
The most common cases I see are sciatica, back pain, plantar fasciitis and a lot of fitness/sports people that don't feel balanced or feel discomfort and pain when exercising.
How many sessions are involved in treatment, and is there any work/exercises required in between sessions?
I would be lying if I gave you a set number of sessions. It depends a lot on the problem and on the person.
There is a process where the client is looked after and guided, not only during the sessions but in between. Bespoke exercises are created for each individual according to their biomechanics.
What should someone look for when finding an MAT practitioner?
Like any other job it depends a lot on the individual. It is key that the practitioner believes that getting into exercising as soon as possible is important. Endless hours on the treatment table only makes acute adaptations; most people want permanent changes and that only comes with intelligent exercise.
What do you love most about this form of treatment?
I love that it's a non-invasive and pain free treatment. Plus it works. Also after years doing it, I now combine it with Brain Mapping Training, making it a super powerful tool.
Rui lives and has his practice in London. In addition to MAT, Rui also offers Personal Training, Brain Mapping Training and Biomechanics Consultancy. To find out more about Rui, or to book a session, please click here.
*Brain Mapping Training is similar to MAT in that it uses range of motion assessment and muscle tests, but instead of the origin/insertion technique (poking the muscle to activate it), it uses local vibration, imagery training and post activation potentiation. The theory and science behind it goes deeper (neuromecanics) and it's more efficient.