Tom McElhenny is a health and fitness professional located in Dallas/Fort Worth that specializes in the non-invasive and non-surgical
corrective exercise system known as Muscle Activation Techniques, a revolutionary and cutting-edge process designed to balance the
muscular system and improve neuromuscular function.
MAT (Muscle Activation Techniques) is a systematic form of exercise that identifies and corrects muscle
imbalances that, if left untreated, can lead to injury, compromise performance, and impede recovery.
MAT utilizes a range of motion assessment to determine movement asymmetries, manual muscle tests
to locate weak muscles, isometric strengthening exercises, and a digital palpation of the attachment
sites of the weakened muscles, which when performed, can quickly improve the contractile capability of
the treated muscle or muscles. Stress, trauma, and overuse adversely effects an individual’s contractile
capabilities by disrupting the communication between the nervous and muscular systems, which results
in muscular inhibition and diminishes the ability of a muscle to contract on command. Therefore, the
MAT process can help restore the communication between the muscular system and the central
nervous system by improving the neurological input of an inhibited muscle allowing it to properly
perform its intended function resulting in improved strength, stability, and neuromuscular control.
The goal of MAT is to improve your muscle contractile efficiency, which results in increased strength,
joint stability, and range of motion. MAT will also prepare your body for exercise, reduce your risk of
injury, optimize athletic performance, accelerate recovery, and improve or maintain your overall
movement and function. Although the MAT process does not treat pain, many clients also experience a
significant reduction in pain.
Unlike other forms of exercise and therapy, which attempt to produce change on the body by using
force, MAT instead works with your body to produce the desired results. Improvements in strength,
stability, and flexibility are not forced but are instead the result of enhanced muscle contraction. MAT
attempts to identify and correct the causes of the inhibition rather than treating the symptoms, and
because each client has different muscular weaknesses, imbalances, and compensation patterns, every
MAT session is different and specifically addresses each client’s individual needs. Many exercise and
therapy modalities also focus on gross motor patterns; however, many individuals have an incredible
ability to compensate and thus appear to function normally. Therefore, MAT focuses on the individual
components of human movement rather than addressing gross motor capabilities because the
integrated system is only as good as its isolated parts. Further, MAT only identifies muscular
weaknesses and improves the inhibited muscle or group of muscles contractile capabilities and
therefore does not diagnose or treat any pathology.
Yes, MAT is safe and can benefit everyone. MAT Specialists have treated clients of all ages and
occupations; moreover, MAT has been used to improve the neuromuscular efficiency of everyone from
elite athletes to rehabilitation patients.
An MAT session is performed on a massage table with the client dressed in comfortable workout attire
and lasts for approximately one hour. The session begins with a range of motion assessment that
compares the left and right sides of the client’s body, and if any asymmetries are found, the MAT
Specialist will manually test the muscles that produce the limited movement. The client must adequately
resist the force applied by the hands of the MAT Specialist for a predetermined period of time. If the
client cannot maintain the testing position, responds too slowly, or experiences cramping, then the
muscle is considered weak, and the MAT Specialist will either digitally palpate the skeletal attachment
points of the inhibited muscle or have the client perform a series of isometric muscle contractions to
activate the weakened muscle. Muscles that test strong are functioning properly and require no
treatment. After the conclusion of either the digital palpation or the isometrics, the MAT Specialist will
then re-test the treated muscle to assess its strength. If the treated muscle tests weak, the MAT
Specialist will re-treat the inhibited muscle; however, if the muscle tests strong, which it often does,
then the MAT Specialist will continue the process described above, testing and treating, if necessary, all
of the muscles that produce the movement limitation.