Helping kids beat muscle pain

Short stuff: Health roundup

If your young athlete struggles with muscle pains or weakness, there is a solution you might not know about.

Muscle Activation Techniques is a relatively new process used to correct muscle imbalances in the body, improving a body’s function, reducing pain and elevating athletic performance.

“We’re basically solving problems people don’t know exist,” says Shawn Sherman, Illinois’ first certified MAT specialist and owner of Peak Performance in LaGrange.

MAT specialists identify restrictions in motion, joint instability, muscular tightness, compensation patterns and muscle weakness. After an assessment, they use carefully designed protocols to jumpstart the muscles into working the way they were meant to.

From injury prevention to enhanced athletic performance, Sherman, the biomechnics specialist for the Chicago Cubs, says MAT strengthens how a person’s entire body functions and indirectly improves the immune system and cardiovascular function."I firmly believe MAT is right for any child.”

About 20 percent of his clients are high school age or younger. MAT can be used for kids as young as 8 as long as they can actively participate in the techniques, he says.

Bill Busch, MAT specialist, certified strength and conditioning specialist and owner of Fitness From the Inside Out, says he’s used MAT on kids as young as 8 with muscular imbalance issues, adolescents active in sports and adults of all fitness and activity levels. He says MAT can also help moms who need to get back in shape after having a baby.

“I look for weak muscles and treat them, and the advantages over other treatments are that we don’t treat pain, we treat weakness,” says Busch."If a muscle is tight, we don’t treat the tight muscle, we find out why it’s tight.”

Since MAT is still relatively new, you may be concerned about trying it on your child. Sherman says he understands those concerns, but says MAT holds up to scrutiny. For his work with the Cubs, the team’s medical staff evaluated it and saw how it enhanced performance before he was even allowed to work with the players.

“I can’t imagine starting a fitness program without it,” says Busch, who has used MAT on his own children, ages 3 and 11."MAT is a great pre-, during-, and post-athletic season assessment to keep young athletes from getting hurt.”

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