As a former sprinter turned distance runner, I’ve always been taught to look at where injuries are and treat those at the source, so I was very intrigued after reading through Integra’s website and the concept of Muscle Activation Technique (MAT) as it turned what I knew on its head. I headed down to Integra’s space I’m the heart of London’s Brick Lane to meet with the Founder of Integra, Michael Goulden who put me through my paces in what was a very thorough consultation.
MAT is a concept from an American programme and Michael is one of a very few professionals in Europe who hold the qualification of Master Level Specialist in the Muscle Activation Technique. MAT is a biochemically based manual therapy that prepares the body for exercise which ensures the body works more efficiently reducing injury risk and increases recovery time and performance.
Pain in fitness is usually seen as a place to stop and rest, which is fine, but Michael explained that by looking at the muscles and their inhibition when something is wrong (which results in us feeling pain) and looking at that in connection with the Central Nervous System (your brain, powerhouse for the muscular, endocrine, immune and digestion systems), it will point to the imbalances of the joints and muscles usually found elsewhere before working on activating the muscles which have “shut down” causing the inhibition. Pain essentially is a protective mechanism that the brain places on the body to get us to stop. We went through my weekly activity and diary of races coming up as well as lifestyle.
I currently have issues with my left hamstring, so we went through a series of resistance tests to look deeper into the cause. Michael made the point of reminding me to think about why that was; yes, it was due to exercise, but I was to look at why there was pain there in the first place.
Integra’s space is very well laid out and offers a room for examination and an open gym area.
After a very thorough examination looking at muscle strengths and weaknesses, Michael pointed out my flexibility was very good, considering I run long distances my feet and knees were in a very good place and as an athlete, in fact I had sprinters feet. He noted I should look more at my left hip and part of my glute as that’s where my weaknesses were and not in the hamstring where I feel the tightness. Michael also dispelled the myth about the illustrious IT Band that is the bain of a lot of runners lives. The ITB cannot stretch, so when we feel the pain in that area, it is usually indicative of issues in the muscles usually in the thighs hips or glutes, so foam rolling may not always be the best solution. (At this point, I should add my mind: blown).
This is definitely something I would like to look more into as I continue my Personal Trainer studies, for my personal knowledge about my own body and how it operates as an athlete.
Integra have a “Injury Prevention for Runners” workshop coming up on Saturday 7th September which I would highly recommend for anyone who is a runner or wants to start running. For further information on the workshop click here.
Integra also offer Personal and Group Training. For more information on this and their Muscle Activation Technique consultations, you can find details on Integra’s website.