Muscle Activation Articles

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An interview between Mike Mulligan Golf Pro at South Winchester and Owen Hedicker, MAT Certified Specialist

Mike:  
I was introduced to Owen through a client who was having a hip problem for a number of years and after going around the usual routes with little success he benefited from a new approach called Muscle Activation Techniques™ (MAT).  Owen has since worked with me regarding some issues where my own game and practice were being affected by ongoing wrist and hip problems.  Here he explains how MAT is not just aimed at resolving aches and pains but improving mobility and stability for golf performance.

Owen can you briefly explain what MAT does?
‘Sure.  Muscle Activation Techniques™ (MAT) wakes up muscles that are a little unresponsive.  This is important because if groups of muscles are unresponsive they cannot add stability to a joint, causing other muscles to over work.  This can result in changes in alignment, limitations in mobility, loss of strength and power, early fatigue, feelings of muscle tightness or aches and pains.’

So how does this influence the golf swing?
‘The golf swing although having some variability is a repeatable movement pattern determined by two things:

1) Technique and
2) Mobility and stability limitations

Naturally the best way to improve your game is to have lessons to work on your technique and understand the swing preferably before you build in a lot of poor habits.  However to perform the swing motion you need mobility at a number of joints and the ability to stabilise them to transfer power through the body into the club. 

It is easy to see in the example of a golfer with limited hip rotation that they will try and pick up the motion somewhere else e.g. through the foot lifting, the knee twisting, torso and or shoulders and arms overworking.  Commonly this will contribute to an inconsistent swing, over stress the muscles and joints that are picking up the motion and lead to early fatigue that is mistaken for a lack of fitness; or niggles and injuries that are treated but re-occur because the cause is not addressed.  It is very possible that this person may still be very good competitive golfer because they are good at using their compensation but how good could they be and will they be able to play for years to come without injury?     

Even for the golfer with good range of motion they can be limited by a lack of stability in the body.  This lack of stability leads to an inability to generate and transfer power.  We can see and feel the effects of instability when we walk on ice.  We have to work harder to stabilise ourselves on the slippery surface so we shorten our stride, guard our movements and likewise you wouldn’t be able to generate much power in your swing! Now consider the same effects going on inside the body

You have mentioned MAT addressing things such as muscle tightness, fatigue, injuries movement and stability so is this different from other forms of therapy and exercise?   

‘MAT has been developed because it bridges a gap between therapy and exercise.  Many forms of therapy work to address the symptomatic area but are not in the position to address muscle imbalances that underlie and contribute to the problem so we go out and do the same thing and the problem re-occurs.  Like wise we can choose to improve mobility, strength and endurance and even stability through exercise.  However sometimes we may just be improving our compensations or the exercise itself may not specifically address a problem or if too stressful can even add to it.  This is a big area so I’m happy to discuss the ins and outs of specific forms of therapy and exercise with individuals and how it applies to them.

 The main thing is that MAT can be utilised on its own and works well in conjunction with other practices i.e. by reactivating under utilised muscles and creating stability and support it helps the healing process and recovery from injury.  By addressing muscle imbalances MAT can help address muscular causes of injuries.  With the added support and stability comes mobility and strength and you are able to get a higher return from your exercise and golf drills.

It all sounds good. So can someone’s golf swing benefit directly from MAT?

‘Everyone is appraised individually before treatment commences so we can get an idea of how you may benefit.  This may be to:

So yes an individual may have a treatment and take the effect straight onto the course but for another it will mean they have new tools (mobility and stability) to enhance their game with the drills a golf professional like your self might give them.  For another it will mean they can enjoy the game without the usual tightness and niggles and they can play for longer and more frequently for years to come.’

Mike has been talking to Owen Hedicker who has worked in the exercise industry for over 10 years, and practices at the Spirit Health Club in Eastleigh Hampshire.   MAT is a non-invasive treatment developed in the U.S and is relatively new to the UK.