Muscle Activation Techniques

1100x400 man weights LGE


Greg Roskopf’s Muscle Activation Techniques


Muscle imbalances are often at the root of misalignment (barring macro-trauma) in the body that can cause many problems if not properly addressed over time. Muscle imbalances denote the contrast between muscles that are still fully working and must “take up slack” for the lesser- working muscles. Weakness is the reason we feel tension in the body, and this tension can create pain. Pain can also be caused by weak muscles that become inflamed, swollen, and unable to properly contract. These imbalances are caused by a short-circuit in the connection between the brain and muscles when stressed, traumatized, or overused; and this results in inhibited muscles not fulfilling their potential. These inhibited muscles present themselves as weak when tested, and opposing muscles will try to tighten up to protect us from vulnerability. There is also an inversely proportional relationship between muscle activation and inflammation, so the more a muscle is inflamed, the less that muscle is able to optimally contract (and vice- versa).

There are two approaches to remedy this situation in which the body has relatively underactive (weak) and overactive (tight) muscles.

The more common method of the two is to downregulate the tension in tight muscles in an attempt to create muscle balance, which weakens the strong links still allowing for resisting and producing forces. This method, however, can sacrifice the stability of joints in order to allow an increase in range of motion. This can work against what the brain and body are trying to accomplish by removing necessary tension that the brain deems appropriate to splint the body, protecting it from unstable and weaker positions.

The lesser known approach is to increase the tension- producing capabilities of muscles that cannot create as much tension as the “tight” muscles without even addressing tension directly. What’s interesting about this approach, which is utilized by Muscle Activation Techniques, is that we have found that those tight muscles that oppose the weak ones can actually relax when we address the weak muscles instead of the tight ones. This is a much more logical approach, as it works with what the brain is trying to accomplish.

This is the basis for Muscle Activation Techniques. It improves the ability for weakened muscles to work better rather than downregulating the ability for all muscles to work, as static stretching and foam rolling typically does. This is a major paradigm shift that allows for expedited recovery as well as performance enhancement, and is consistently the most effective method of non-surgical intervention in healthcare today. This is the reason a growing number of professional athletes and organizations all around the world are utilizing MAT for enhanced recovery and performance.